March 22, 2023  — The OECS observes World Water Day, 2023, celebrated annually on March 22, promoting this year’s theme, Accelerating change to solve the global water and sanitation crises.

In 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda, the world committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. Unfortunately, the progress to date has been woefully slow.

The OECS Commission recognises the need to accelerate progress in water and sanitation throughout the region and is implementing projects with various partners to enhance water security through the installation of water infrastructure and the support of healthy and resilient biodiversity and ecosystems.

Our region’s Small Island Developing State (SIDS) are surrounded by serene bodies of water. However, there are threats to freshwater for drinking, cooking, washing, hygiene and sanitation.

Due to the interconnected nature of our islands’ landscapes, activities in upper watershed areas inevitably impact rivers, aquifers and ultimately, the coastal and marine environment.

Unsustainable practices in agriculture, construction and industry contribute to the pollution of waterways, while indiscriminate use of water increases the demand for already scarce resources.

Projections of reduced rainfall and increased temperatures as a result of climate change will impact the amount of water which can be collected and stored in aquifers, rivers, lakes and dams.

If freshwater becomes unavailable, seawater can be desalinated by some countries to produce potable water; however, this process is energy-intensive, driving up the cost of production of water, and this cost may be transferred to the consumer.

With an anticipated increase in population, change in consumption patterns and increased food demands, water demand is expected to increase. It is therefore critical to consider integrated management of land and water resources for sustainable development within SIDS.

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