There is no human civilization without rivers. When there is a scarcity of clean and pure water, the survival of all living beings and species is threatened. While human population has exploded by billions more in the last thousand years, the amount of water on Earth has not increased. In fact, human activity has steadily reduced the amount of fresh water available. Further, dramatic changes in the timing and volume of rainfall, and repeated occurrences of drought have created a water crisis. Water bodies are polluted and large rivers that were once perennial now run practically dry through the year.

While water conflicts are not new in history, the huge scale of possible human conflicts in the very near future is alarming. What’s more, other species – plants, animals, birds and even microbial life – is being destroyed with disappearing water habitats.

The good news is that nations have started taking the first steps, as far apart as in New Zealand and in India, in recognizing that rivers should be given legal rights as living entities. Revival of rivers and natural water bodies, water conservation during human activity, cleaning of effluents and recharge of ground waters is absolutely integral to staving off water wars in the future. We can do this by adopting a 5Rs approach: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Rejuvenate and Rainwater Harvest.

By combining time-tested ancient techniques, modern technology and human will together, C20 partners can identify and facilitate the implementation of solutions quickly and have a widespread impact. Through the C20, Civil Society Organizations, governments and corporates will work together at the policy level, in industry and at the grassroots to create a rapid widespread impact to restore, rejuvenate and maintain freshwater availability.

India Coordinator: Vasuki Kalyanasundaram, The Satsang Foundation, India ([email protected]); Devangshu Dutta, Satsang Foundation ([email protected])

International Coordinator: Bobby Nimbalkar, Delivering Change Foundation ([email protected])