Blog.Dec 21, 2021

2022: the year to elevate the value of water

As 2021 draws to a close, we look back on a year when we have, perhaps more clearly than ever, witnessed the devastating effects of the global water crisis. In numerous places around the world, floods, droughts and raging fires have destroyed livelihoods and taken lives. And as some places are becoming increasingly difficult to live in, we have been made acutely aware of how vulnerable our societies are. 

photo with words 2022 and a light bulb instead of the 0

During the past year, we have been reminded of two things: that human activities are ultimately responsible for these events, and that almost all aspects of a sustainable future are linked to water. This leads us to the conclusion that we have the power to change things for the better, and that doing so must involve a strong focus on water-related issues.

The key to understanding these relationships is learning to appreciate the preciousness of what we have. We must learn to more clearly see the water-related challenges around us and improve our understanding of the essential role water plays for overcoming some of the greatest development obstacles of our time. To put it simply: we must learn to value water.

There are unfortunately good reasons to remain concerned for our common future when moving into the new year. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, earlier this year, describes a situation far worse than what we assumed back in 2015 when the Paris agreement was adopted. The climate models we have been using do not capture the pressure we put on the Earth, and an increasing number of studies suggest that we are pushing the world’s eco systems to the brink of collapse. 

But despite this bleak outlook, I persist in my belief that there are also good reasons to remain hopeful, as we now make our pledges and wishes for 2022. We still have in our power to make a difference, to tackle serious water- and climate-related issues, to co-operate over shared resources, and to leave a better world to the generations to come. 

“We must learn to more clearly see the water-related challenges around us and improve our understanding of the essential role water plays for overcoming some of the greatest development obstacles of our time. To put it simply: we must learn to value water. ”

Torgny Holmgren, SIWI's Executive Director

Nature is no doubt at the heart of this equation

Let us start by renegotiating our entire relationship with the natural environment. We all have a duty to ensure that our activities do not have a negative impact. But it does not stop there. We must also work to restore and recover lost biodiversity and ecosystems. In realizing a more resilient future: we should work with, not against nature.

We should also see water as an opportunity for collaboration. All sectors of society must come together to bring about the lasting change our planet needs. As our most precious resource, water serves as a connector. Water can be a catalyst for rebuilt trust in one another; a shared water resource is primarily a ground for co-operation, not for conflict.

And to collaborate, we must communicate. You may have noticed that SIWI recently launched an updated visual identity and a new website. This new look is deeply rooted in our belief that communication is an essential part of achieving positive and lasting change. Effective communication can help build public awareness, ramp up pressure on decision-makers, and foster behavioural change that supports the sustainable development goals. This year’s Stockholm Water Prize laurate, Sandra Postel, has underlined this in her impressive work.

Our new visual identity is intended to highlight the importance and diversity of our work towards a more water-wise world. In the years to come, the world needs to significantly improve how water is understood, valued, and managed. To make this happen, we must communicate about water in a new way so that everyone understands how fundamental water management is for our future.

At SIWI we are determined to keep working, in 2022 and beyond, to achieve this. And we look forward to joining hands with all of you in this effort.

Happy New Year – let 2022 be the year when we elevate the value of water.