Solving the World’s Water Issue

By Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, Special for  USDR

The supply of fresh, safe water is rapidly diminishing around the globe. Pollution, contamination, water borne diseases, poor water treatment and filtration are substantial problems, as is the mere availability of clean water in some  regions.

The conflict between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ has turned violent in some countries. This represents a harbinger of things to come unless nations take action to reverse the trends. The inequitable availability of safe water strains societal stability, threatens national security and limits economic  growth.

The number of people on earth with no access to safe water is 1.2 billion.  Another 2.7 billion go without clean water for at least one month each  year.

“There is no life without water,” said H.R.H. Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, the chairman of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, an international non-governmental organization. “Water security is part of national security for a  nation.”

At a United Nations ceremony Wednesday, eight leading researchers were awarded the 7th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water  (PSIPW).

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon said the researchers work is essential. “Water innovation is critical for peace and prosperity, yet hundreds of millions lack access to safe water. We will not leave them behind. Science has a crucial role to play. We must recognize science as a universal public good and increase the investment into integrative scientific approaches to sustainable  development.”

“We call for an international summit for heads of state, as they do for economic summits because even if we bear with the economic difficulties, we cannot surpass water challenges,” Prince Khaled  said.

The prize winners are scientists who achieved tangible breakthroughs, such as making it possible to detect a cholera outbreak—a water-borne disease that kills 100,000 a year—up to six months ahead of time; developing better and less expensive ways to treat water; detecting poisons buried in sediment; predicting and limiting the damage and death caused by flooding and erosion; and mitigating and reducing the environmental stress on water  sources.

At least 167 countries will experience water depletion in the next 25 years. In the U.S. alone, 40 states, including California, Texas and Florida, will experience water scarcity in the next  decade.

“Water scarcity is a growing problem.  Every ounce of scientific ingenuity is needed to prevent the world’s growing water crisis,” said Dr. Abdulmalek A. Al Alshaikh, General Secretary of PSIPW. “Solutions must be creative and  effective.”

Established in 2002 by Saudi Arabia’s late HRH Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, PSIPW focuses on awarding scientists who establish concrete developments that can save millions of  lives.

Among this year’s award winning  achievements:

  • A solution that predicts cholera outbreaks up to six-months in advance;
  • An energy-efficient solution to sustainability sanitize larger volumes of water;
  • A model that forecasts monsoonal floods one- to two-weeks in advance;
  • Research that advances scientific understanding of changes in river flows and, therefore, the functionality of river systems as a water source.

“This award will motivate more research and raise awareness of this issue around the world.” Water sanitation, said UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon, “requires investment and partnership and international attention and cooperation among different scientific communities and nations,”  said.

Award  Winners:

  • The Creativity Prize: (shared)
    The team of Dr. Rita Colwell (University of Maryland at College Park) and Dr. Shafiqul Islam (Tufts University)
    Dr. Peter J. Webster (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Creativity Prize:
    Dr. Peter J. Webster (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA).
  • Surface Water Prize:
    Gary Parker (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
  • Groundwater Prize:
    Dr. Tissa H. Illangasekare (Colorado School of Mines)
  • Alternative Water Resources Prize:
    The team of Dr. Rong Wang & Dr. Anthony G. Fane (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
  • Water Management and Protection Prize:
    Dr. Daniel P. Loucks (Cornell University)

The UN Missions of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Thailand and Tajikistan co-sponsored the Nov. 2 ceremony at the United Nations. The event included approximately 150 high-level diplomats and UN officials in  attendance.

Background on the PSIPW awards and recipients can be found  here.

SOURCE Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for  Water

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