By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
“Count every drop, every drop counts: that is the theme for this year’s celebration of World Meteorological Day (WMD), observed on 23 March.
Water and climate change: inextricably linked
In a message to mark the occasion, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, notes that this year’s World Meteorological Day theme is the same as that of World Water Day.
The aim of uniting the two observances, which fall on 22 and 23 March respectively, is to highlight the role of water in the climate debate and its effect in the attainment of global sustainable development goals.
According to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, the effects of climate changes are felt mostly through water.
“More floods, more droughts, more pollution…these climate and water-related shocks respect no natural boundaries.”
“Let us count every drop, because every drop counts”
Noting that the growing demands on the world’s water resources are leading towards a crisis, the UN Secretary-General calls for better management.
“We need to manage climate and water in a more coordinated and sustainable manner to address the urgent need for improved forecasting, monitoring and management of water supplies and to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water.”
Antonio Guterres also advocates for improved hydrological monitoring as “we cannot manage what we do not measure” and therefore have to “count every drop because every drop counts.”
According to the World Meteorological Organization, 25% of the world’s population, 2 billion people, live in countries with severe water scarcity. By 2050, the demand for water is expected to be 25 to 30% higher than today.
The Church, climate and water resources
In his 2015 Encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato si’, Pope Francis touches on the disparity of access to water and the quality of water available to the poor. The Encyclical refers to safe drinking water as “a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival, and as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.”
Laudato si’ also identifies climate as “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” It also calls for waste reduction and for increased attention to the moral, social and economic consequences of human interaction with nature.
World Meteorological Day commemorates the coming into effect of the convention that established the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on 23 March 1950. The WMO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for coordinating international cooperation on the state of the Earth’s atmosphere, the weather and climate it produces, and the distribution of water resources.