“Water is fundamental to human well-being,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It “Is the source of life, and it nurtures and sustains livelihoods and civilizations. Secure and sustainable access to safe water is an essential element of national security.”
That is why the Biden-Harris Administration launched the White House Global Water Security program. “Today, billions of people around the world do not have access to clean, safe water. And in the coming years, climate change, population growth, urbanization, and environmental degradation will only drive that number higher,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at the program’s introduction in early June.
“Water insecurity makes our world less stable. When water is scarce, it becomes more difficult for communities to produce food, … more difficult to protect public health and to drive economic growth. This, in turn, … can lead to mass migration, which can put significant pressure on neighboring communities. Water insecurity also makes our world less safe. Disputes between countries or communities over limited water resources can, predictably and by extension, over time provoke armed conflict.”
Lack of access to water also bears serious costs to some of the most vulnerable people, particularly women and girls.
“In many countries, the responsibility for collecting water disproportionately falls on women and girls. Worldwide, women and girls spend 200 million hours a day -200 million hours a day!- gathering water. … It is 200 million hours a day that could be spent by those women and girls in school, at work, or at home with loved ones.”
The Global Water Security Action Plan stands on three pillars, said Vice President Harris. First, it fully commits the United States “to the collective fight to provide access to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation services in every community in every country.”
Second, to help manage and preserve global water resources, the United States will share critical water data with the international community, as well as the world-class technical expertise that comes with it.
And finally, we will use our nation’s considerable diplomatic resources to elevate water security as an international priority.
“This action plan will help our country prevent conflict and advance cooperation among nations, increase equity and economic growth, and make our world more inclusive and resilient,” said Vice President Harris.
“Water scarcity is a global problem, and it must be met with a global solution.”