Cover image: International Year of Water Cooperation

International Year of Water Cooperation

The year 2013 is the UN International Year of Water Cooperation. It aims to raise awareness: about the potential for increased cooperation, and the challenges of our increasing demands for water. Further information and resources are available on the UN Water Cooperation website, including a colourful poster all about the Water Cycle. UN-Water Factsheet on water scarcity - click to download PDF

Water-related facts, figures and teaching resources

The vast majority of water on earth (over 97%) is salt water; less than 1% of all the fresh water is available for consumption. There are various definitions of 'water scarcity'. Generally speaking:
  • if a country or region has less than 1,700 cubic metres of renewable water per person per year it is experiencing 'water stress'
  • if less than 1,000 cubic metres - 'water scarcity'
  • if less than 500 cubic metres - 'absolute water scarcity'.
The image on the right (click to download larger version) shows some stark figures from UN-Water relating to global water consumption. There are many more useful statistics, graphs and maps on the UN-Water website. There is a useful article on the Al Jazeera website: Risk of water wars rises with scarcity. It includes a map of potential (and actual) water conflict areas. Another useful resource for exploring issues around water cooperation is the Water Conflict Chronology Map from the Pacific Institute. This shows that depriving people of water has always had potential as a 'weapon' - it documents 225 water conflicts from biblical and classical times, right through to the present day. Using this map you can bring the theme of water cooperation into RE, Classics and History as well as Geography. And here's a great little animation showing lots of facts and figures about the amount of water we use: Every Last Drop. Get your students to take a look at it and come up with questions and discussion points. We have lots of teaching resources about water listed on our database - do a resource search on 'water' to find them. Last but not least, here is an info-graphic looking at ways towards better water cooperation:
Fresh water for all