Friday, March 22, 2019

Some words about the
World Water Day 2019

by Manuel João Florentino Gomes Abrunhosa
(IAPG Board of Experts, Portugal)

Manuel Abrunhosa
The theme for this year's World Water Day 2019 is "Leaving No One Behind".
This is a topic of major relevance. Water is an indispensable resource for biological, economic, social and cultural life, the basic support of sustainability and human development.
From a global perspective, there has been great progress in recent years that has enabled access to water in quantity and quality acceptable to populations in developing countries, not only for human consumption, but also for agriculture, industry and services. This progress is largely due to the expansion of groundwater exploitation.
In some countries/regions, however, there are serious water shortages, even for basic functions, and poor sanitary quality for human consumption. 4 billion people, more than half the world's population, suffer serious deficiencies in water availability for basic functions or in their sanitary quality in at least part of the year; 2.1 billion do not have potable water in the home; 159 million will collect water directly from unsafe surface sources and 700 million may have to move by 2030 because of water shortages.
Chronic "underdevelopment", already an attack on human rights, is not the sole cause of the scourge; added to it are war, climate change, discrimination, forced displacement, among others, as nuclear factors that put populations, sometimes even with some resources, in situations of life-threatening deprivation, particularly of children and women.
The focus of the World Water Day 2019 is thus aimed at those who are left behind, forgotten or deprived of adequate and safe access to water, whatever the nature, origin or use. But we must also point out among those who have lagged the water resources themselves, namely the ill-considered groundwater and all those responsible for management measures, in their deficiencies or even lack of action, which, in this perspective, we should not and cannot leave behind. Training in water resources is more than ever indispensable.
Fighting this framework is first and foremost a cornerstone of the ethical principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, more recently, in the 17 objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations. It is never too much to stand out and put all them at the forefront of the concrete projects and actions of supra-governmental entities, governmental, non-governmental and individuals, in the light of ethics and the social and individual responsibility of all of us.
From the totality of water as a global whole in the Water Cycle, groundwater resources are the component that takes us, as hydrogeologists, predominant attention and of which we assume as specialists. In the many facets that make up Groundwater Hydrology or Hydrogeology, we have skills to act from the progress of scientific knowledge, to the exploitation of its economic value, through the teaching and management of the numerous interactions of groundwater with the environment and society.
We have defended the principles outlined above and adopted and in 2017 the IAH - International Association of Hydrogeologists and the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics signed an Agreement for Cooperation with the aim to promote a co-ordinated policy for taking initiatives and events of common interest, namely in discussion on ethical and social implications in the exploitation and use of georesources, with specific attention to groundwater.
Following the Agreement, and the honour of being nominated by IAPG as member of its Board of Experts (Corresponding Citizen Scientists) on Geoethics in Groundwater Management, by itself an enormous responsibility, I was appointed by IAPG and IAH to organize an International congress on «Geoethics & Groundwater Management» scheduled to Porto, Portugal 21-25 October 2019. Since a few days ago, new responsibilities and tasks were added, as president of the Portuguese Chapter of IAH (AIH-GP). With them comes the implementation of the principles and good practices of the Cape Town Statement on Geoethics on respect and responsibility we have over Earth's resources, groundwater focused.
The Portuguese Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH-GP) and the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics through its member of the Board of Experts invite all to join for celebrating the World Water Day 2019, by encouraging to raise awareness on the duties and responsibility of citizenship, symbolically expressed by the motto "Leaving No One Behind".
As IAPG Corresponding Citizen Scientists on Geoethics in Groundwater Management, chair of the GEOETH&GWM’19 and the AIH-GP, I wish that, beyond the public intentions of the World Water Day 2019, no hydrogeologist, working and studying, is left behind, and that we stand together as responsible professionals in the defense of the principles that inform our constantly scientific and professional updating, knowing we can contribute, along with others, to the human progress and sustainability.

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