Over the past two decades, the dominant model of urbanization has been far from “smart and sustainable”. This has been the major conclusion of Habitat III, the third United Nations’ Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that took place in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016. Around the globe, every municipality, every community is facing a growing set of challenges to transform in the 21st century to improve peoples’ lives. Urbanization is creating significant opportunities for social and economic development and more sustainable living. But it’s also exerting significant pressure on infrastructure and resources and potentially opening the door to escalating social inequality.
For the first time in human history, there are more people living in urban than rural areas; that trend is expected to continue with 1.4 million people added to the urban population every week. The United Nations reports that more than 54% of the world’s population now resides in urban areas, a figure set to rise to 67% by 2050. India is the second most populated country in the world with over 1.3 billion people, 377 million people (32.2%) of which reside in urban areas. As India’s surface water resources are limited and vulnerable to contamination and depletion, there is a high and increasing dependency on groundwater resources. Groundwater is one of the primary sources of urban drinking water in India and particularly of urban areas, as in many parts of the world, but its sustainability depends on effective conservation, protection and science-based management.
Issues like pollution, congestion, water scarcity, slums, traffic, overcrowding, public transport, and waste have made many of India’s megacities un-livable. With an increase in urban population, will come rising demands for basic services such as clean water, public transport, sewage treatment and housing. Climate change is likely to compound these trends through higher frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events as well as by changing the quantum and pattern of precipitation. Water stress is further compounded in countries like India with disproportionately low freshwater resources relative to population (i.e. 4% of global freshwater resources against 18% of global population) and per capita storage of only 210 cubic meters even when most of its annual precipitation (around 4,000 billion cubic meters) falls in just three months.
It is against this backdrop that the conference is being organized. We are bringing together renowned water resources experts in academia, industry, utilities and research institutions and in other related disciplines from across the world to brainstorm and deliberate on various aspects of sustainable water management (i.e. meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own water needs). This international conference provides an interactive platform for eclectic brainstorming and sharing novel ideas and case studies. The workshop will comprise plenary sessions, technical sessions, excursion tours, an exhibition and other parallel events. It will also encourage young minds to look for better solutions for the future.