By Emily Fischer
This post was originally published here on Oct. 21, 2022.
The University of Alabama’s Global Water Security Center has been recognized in the new U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. The strategy, which aligns federal efforts to address global water challenges, includes U.S. government agency-specific plans. The Department of Defense will address “Strategic Objective 4: Anticipate and Reduce Conflict and Fragility Related to Water” with support from the GWSC.
The GWSC will provide research and analysis support on water and environmental issues that have the capacity to become national security threats. The center will prioritize drought, water scarcity and other resource limitations based on DOD guidance.
“I applaud the release of this document to address global water security issues,” said Mike Gremillion, GWSC director and interim executive director of the Alabama Water Institute. “This strategy encourages the federal government to work collaboratively with inter- and intra-agency, academia and the private sector. The GWSC looks forward to working with all these communities to help them achieve these aspirations.”
To overcome the challenges posed by the global water crisis, the U.S. government intends to strengthen sector governance, financing, institutions and markets; increase equitable access to safe, sustainable, and climate-resilient water and sanitation services and the adoption of key hygiene behaviors; improve climate-resilient conservation and management of freshwater resources and associated ecosystems; and anticipate and reduce conflict and fragility related to water. As part of DOD’s support of these aims, the GWSC will move cutting-edge water research to operational products. This research and analysis throughout the next several years will help to achieve the goals of the White House Action Plan on Global Water Security.
The integration of a water strategy into national security is crucial to the preservation of public health, food security, economic growth and governance. Beyond the scope of day-to-day water challenges, global stressors such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic create additional strain at home and abroad. Under the 2022-2027 Global Water Strategy, the U.S. will work to deploy all available resources in an effort to minimize the effects of water insecurity while also addressing inequalities and decreasing the risk of conflict and state failure.
Billions of people worldwide lack access to water, sanitation and hygiene services. Such issues produce higher rates of poverty, illness and disease, malnutrition, food insecurity, economic decline, ecosystem degradation and climate change. These inequalities become increasingly apparent when examining the contrast between rural and urban populations, ethnic majorities and minorities, the wealthy and the poor and those living in stable versus fragile regions. Additionally, women and girls are often a more vulnerable population.
Though there are many water-related challenges to overcome, water-related developments also serve as a vessel to strengthen central democratic principles of equality, transparency, accountability and human rights. The federal government envisions many opportunities to improve the conditions of people and institutions around the world so long as substantial resources and effort are devoted to the cause.