Groundwater is invisible, and yet its impact is visible everywhere. It is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind.
The UN-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022 aims to bring attention to groundwater at the highest international level. The Summit will use the UN World Water Development Report 2022 as a baseline and the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework as a guideline to define actions towards more responsible and sustainable use and protection of this vital natural resource.
The UN-Water Summit on Groundwater will take place on 7 and 8 December 2022 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, and is planned as a hybrid meeting with the most possible on-side presence.
Groundwater: a Hidden Resource
Groundwater is a vital resource that provides almost half of all drinking water worldwide, about 40 per cent of water for irrigated agriculture and about 1/3 of water required for industry. It sustains ecosystems, maintains the baseflow of rivers and prevents land subsidence and seawater intrusion. Groundwater is an important part of the climate change adaptation process and is often a solution for people without access to safely managed water.
Despite these facts, groundwater, as an ‘invisible’ resource, is out of mind for most people. However, as surface water availability decreases (due to human activities and climate change), reliance and pressure on groundwater will continue to grow. In many places, human activities over-use and pollute groundwater. In other places, we simply do not know how much water is down there. Meanwhile, water scarcity is increasing, already affecting about 2.7 billion people around the world for at least one month per year.
In January 2019, UN-Water set the theme of World Water Day 2022 as groundwater. The UN World Water Development Report 2022 focused on the same topic. In March 2021, UN-Water endorsed the proposal to organize a Groundwater Summit in December 2022 at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, as a contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework. Subsequently, a Task Force for the organization of the World Water Day celebrations and the Groundwater Summit was set up, coordinated by UNESCO and IGRAC.