Despite covering two-thirds of the earth's surface, freshwater accounts for only 3% of the planet's water. This finite and threatened natural resource sustains all life on our planet, and experts from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) expect that two-thirds of the world's population will face water scarcity by 2025.
As Expo 2020 Dubai celebrates Water Week, the last of 10 Thematic Weeks as part of the People and Planet Programme, here are five things you can do to take care of this precious resource:
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that at least 14 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year, and that plastic accounts for 80% of all marine litter found, from surface water to deep sea sediments. In addition to causing harm to marine species, plastic pollution also threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal communities and contributes to climate change.
To help reduce plastic waste, invest in a reusable bottle and stay hydrated while visiting the Expo 2020 Dubai site with the help of Sabeel Fountains, a series of nearly 40 aesthetically striking drinking fountains in public spaces. Visitors can also head to the Aquafina water stations, where water can be customised with variations in carbonation, flavours and temperature.
Having your home decorated with beautiful plants that are hardy to arid climates can help minimise water use and waste. Opt for native plants, those that have developed naturally without human help, and adaptable plants, which are originally native to other regions of the world but have acclimatised and can thrive, grow and reproduce without harming existing native plants or wildlife, and without human intervention.
Native and adaptable plant species account for 50% and 95% of the Expo 2020 Dubai event and post-event landscape respectively, meaning less additional irrigation is required - an example anyone with a green thumb can follow
The World Bank estimates that 70% of freshwater is used for agriculture worldwide, while the FAO estimates that approximately one third of the world's food is wasted, which equates to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year. This food carries not only a carbon footprint, but also a water footprint, and any food that is discarded also means wasting the water resources that were used to produce it.
Expo 2020 Dubai launched the Food Rescue Programme in October, the first of its kind in the UAE, which allows for the monitoring of food operations in the Expo site's restaurants, food halls and staff canteens to ensure they meet the highest sustainability criteria in food preparation, as well as the distribution of surplus to those in need through a partnership with the UAE Food Bank
Everything we consume, from clothes and bags to books and furniture, affects the planet, and being aware of that impact when we shop is key. Reuse wherever possible, buy e-books and buy from those who are transparent about the water use in their supply chain, from the fabrics they use and how they are produced, to how wastewater is disposed of in their factories.
The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region offers numerous interesting water-related pavilions and experiences. In Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion, explore what lies beneath the Ocean and become an agent of change. On the Expo 2020 Dubai app and social media platforms, embark on a series of visitor journeys that stop at Country Pavilions, where water consumption and sustainability are a central theme. At Mission Possible - The Opportunity Pavilion, learn about an innovator tackling water scarcity through nets that collect fog and turn it into water, and stop at the Pledge Room, where you are asked to commit to a course of action that will make a difference to you and your community's life. The pledges are transported to the 'garden', a representation located on the ceiling of the room.
Text, photos and video: Expo Dubai 2020.