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Sustainable Water Use: Can Certification Show the Way?

Richter, Brian

Water is the core of our being. Two-thirds of the human body is made up of water, and we must continually replenish it. Analogous to losing oil in an automobile, being down only a few quarts of water can be fatal to humans. But it takes a lot more than drinking water to keep us healthy. We need water for cooking and bathing. We need water to grow food and generate electricity, to produce the clothes on our backs and the countless other goods we use in our daily lives.

The challenges associated with meeting the water needs of a global population racing toward the seven billion mark are expansive and daunting. Today, more than one billion people lack access to safe, clean drinking water, nearly one billion are malnourished, two billion are without electricity, and more than five hundred million are harmed by floods every year.

Fortunately, many governments and organizations around the world are working to alleviate these social maladies. In September 2000, the General Assembly of the United Nations, cognizant of the growing global dimensions of poverty and inspired by the dawn of a new millennium, came forth with a bold and far-reaching pledge that was signed by 189 nations. The Millennium Declaration, a commitment to reduce extreme poverty, set a series of goals with a 2015 deadline that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. The breathtaking scope of these goals includes addressing poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships.Among these laudable efforts are specific commitments to cut in half the number of people who suffer from hunger or are unable to access or afford safe drinking water.