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Developing Nations Should Focus on Water Research, UN Urges

Leading international agencies rank inadequate water supply and sanitation among the top-10 global risks

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The five will join the 15-nation body responsible for maintaining international peace. Pixabay

Post-secondary education and research aimed at tackling the global water crisis is concentrated in wealthy countries rather than the poorer, developing places where it is most needed, the UN University said.

Two new papers from the university’s Canada-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health on Wednesday called for reducing this ‘alarming’ imbalance between resources and need, which impedes the search for solutions to crucial water challenges.

They also suggested refocusing how water research is assessed; with more emphasis on whether the work leads to successful, practical solutions and less on counting the number of papers published and cited by other researchers.

Leading international agencies rank inadequate water supply and sanitation among the top-10 global risks, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals set ambitious targets for improvement.

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Post-secondary education and research aimed at tackling the global water crisis is concentrated in wealthy countries rather than the poorer. Pixabay

Despite the research and other efforts that have gone into trying to resolve the water challenges, “not many of them have been removed from the global development agenda”, said Hamid Mehmood, an Institute for Water, Environment and Health Senior researcher, in his paper, “Bibliometrics of Water Research: A Global Snapshot”.

“Higher education related to water is a critical component of capacity development,” according to Colin Mayfield, Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo, in “Higher Education in the Water Sector: A Global Overview”.

In their separate papers, Mayfield and Mehmood examine the weaknesses in water-related research and education systems and suggest reforms.

In both cases, with no global data source offering detailed information on educational activities in the water sector, or even listing water-resources programs as a discrete category, the authors devised indirect strategies to extract information from several databases.

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Water-related research is published in 88 countries. Between them, the US and China accounted for 33 per cent of the 1.2 million papers published between 2012 and 2017, although their publication rate is growing more slowly than many other countries.

About 70 per cent of the academic journals that carry research on water issues are published in just four countries — the US, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands — and only two per cent are in China.

Mayfield’s paper states most of the universities that offer courses in water-related issues, and that publish research papers, are in North America, Europe and parts of Asia.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, which faces severe water shortages, very few postgraduate institutions offer recognised programs on water. (IANS)

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World of Work Must Adapt to Unprecedented Changes to Ensure a Sustainable Future

The challenges facing the agency over the next 100 years are likely to be even more daunting

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FILE - U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. VOA

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is warning the world has to adapt to unprecedented changes in the world of work to ensure a sustainable future and create a more just society.  Guterres spoke at the International Labor Conference.

In congratulating the International Labor Organization on its centenary anniversary, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cites the ILO’s many achievements in establishing labor standards that have improved the safety and quality of work for millions of people.

He says the challenges facing the agency over the next 100 years are likely to be even more daunting.

“As we look ahead, we know new technologies — especially artificial intelligence — will inevitably lead to a massive destruction of jobs and a massive creation of new jobs,” said Guterres. “It is difficult to now foresee all these impacts, but it is clear that the future will require a range of new and different skills.”

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U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is warning the world has to adapt to unprecedented changes. Pixabay

To keep abreast of new demands, he says governments will have to make large investments in education that are flexible and based on the learning needs of a lifetime.

Guterres says the well-being of people must be at the center of economic and social policies.  That involves the creation of decent work that is sustainable for the long run.  He notes a sustainable future for the world of work is not possible without addressing the urgent demands of climate change.

“Addressing the climate emergency is indeed the defining issue of our time.  Climate action could create millions of sustainable jobs,” said Guterres. “Green business has proven to be good business.  But climate change is moving faster than we are and we are risking a future with increased instability, inequality and poverty.”

The U.N. chief says new momentum must be injected into the climate change debate.  He says the new momentum is needed to transform political and economic systems to meet the goals set in the Paris Climate Accord to reduce emissions that are harming the survivability of the planet.

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He says he hopes to move in that direction by convening a climate action summit in September at U.N. headquarters in New York. (VOA)