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Introduction to Week 3

Watch Professor Isabelle Durance introduce what is going to be covered in Week 3 of The Challenge of Global Water Security.
Welcome to week three of our course exploring global water security for people and ecosystems. Last week, we considered some of the issues affecting water security in the here and now, such as waterborne diseases, the effects of pollution on water quality, the occurrence and effects of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts. We also prompted you to reflect on your own total water footprint. That’s all the water you used directly on a daily basis or indirectly through the use of water to produce the food you eat and the clothes that you wear. Many of us have a water footprint that affects water security in places distant from where we live, even in other nations and continents.
Finally, we introduced an ethical dimension to water security, particularly the notion of a human right to water, and our responsibilities to the natural environment. This week, we turn towards the horizon and to some of the emerging water challenges coming towards us, and that will affect water security for people and for ecosystems. Some will be positive, but others will only augment our future water challenge. We start with an example of how a well-resourced water company here in Wales is developing the ways through which it will manage its own operation to supply water, treat wastewater, and protect the environment in the decades ahead.
But water companies are just one set of water users, and we’ll show you the growing risk to freshwater ecosystems around the world that arise as we use more water while the range of activities are leading to more freshwater pollution. We’ll show you too two of the significant trends affecting global water security. The first of these is the rising human population and its consequences for water use. For example, in food production and the increasing concentration of people in urban centres. Growing affluence, at least for some people, and changing patterns of food use will also bring additional challenges. The second major trend is the fundamental issue of climate change, to which the hydrological cycle is extremely sensitive.
We’ll consider how changing climatic patterns will impact on water security in different ways across the Earth. We’ll explore how climate change and its effects on water are currently forecast, giving you an insight into the headlines that you read. Finally during this week, we turn once more to the issue of water quality, highlighting how our changing global lifestyles are changing the types of pollutants that reach lakes and rivers. New emergent pollutants, such as pharmaceutical products, new pesticides, and the growing problem of microplastics could all have significant effects on both natural ecosystems and our own safe uses of water that are still difficult to predict. Remember here that global water security is about safe water quality, as well as water quantity.
Each of these topics is a large and deep subject in its own right, but we want to at least introduce some of the key issues that will help you to engage further with the critical water security debate.

In this video, Professor Steve Ormerod introduces the topics for this week.

First, we’ll be exploring water infrastructure and freshwater ecosystems.

Then we’ll look at some of the ways that the climate and demographic change impact on water security, including new sources of pollution.

Over to you

  • Is urbanisation increasing in your country or region?
  • If so, what impact do you think it will have on your water supply?
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The Challenge of Global Water Security

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