Significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the world. These changes, which are expected to persist, present an ongoing risk to interconnected human and natural systems and related ecosystem services. Surface water quality is declining as water temperature increases and more frequent high-intensity rainfall events mobilize pollutants such as pathogens and plastics, as well as making water more susceptible to carbon emissions. With the ever growing dependency on plastic, and the continuing lack of basic infrastructure in Africa, the biosphere is in a continuous cycle of degradation.
The Republic of Kiribati recognizes the importance of water security and wants to promote methods that will satisfy the three aspects of the triple bottom line, which are social equity, the environment.
The main issues at hand regarding water are plastic pollution, pathogenic contamination, and overabundance of dissolved carbon. Plastic pollution stems from countries who are rapidly industrializing, without bearing in mind the environment. Because industrializing countries often lack the proper infrastructure to combat such pollution, waterways are often in a neglected state.
Plastic pollution poses many risks in that they can degrade, causing the creation of microplastics, which can cause damage to the human body if ingested. Industrialization in recent years has also lead to increased levels of carbon emissions, leading to ocean acidification. The pathogenic crisis started to gain traction when the populations of African nations began to exponentially grow. With the populations growing rapidly, African countries have had inadequate time to create infrastructure that suits the population’s needs, including clean water.
Previous actions that have been taken to mitigate the effects of these pollutions are the Clean Water Act, and the banning of single-use plastics. The Clean Water Act set standards for corporations and made it so that companies needed to have permits in order to release pollutants into waterways. The Clean Water Act did encounter some success, but corporations found ways to avoid regulations. Single-use plastics are often the main type of plastic that is found in aquatic ecosystems because they are easily disposable. With the quality and quantity of water decreasing, almost all nations recognize the gravity of the situation.
The Republic of Kiribati proposes a multi-faceted plan, which will solve waste management, the accessibility to clean water, technological innovations, education on sanitization, and recycling. This plan, in short, is abbreviated as the WATER plan. In solving waste management, we will encourage information about the proper disposal of waste, so that it does not get into waterways. In increasing the accessibility to clean water, the Republic of Kiribati plans to provide boiling stations, where citizens can sanitize their water, so they can consume safely. This plan also encourages the research and development in technologies that will progress the movement of water security. In education, this plan will proactively inculcate sustainable practices and hygienic routines. The last part of the WATER plan is the encouragement of recycling practices, in order to repurpose used plastics and discourage production of brand-new plastics. As a part of this plan, there will be the creation of the United Nations Water Council, which membership is voluntary. This council will have a biannual summit in which participating members create legislation to combat the issues at hand. Participating members will be required to adhere to regulations that are voted in by the council.