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Clean water and sanitation

Water is a fundamental requirement for all life on Earth, and in turn access to clean water is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Mankind depends on water to survive and for the production of food and energy, among other things.

Unclean water and deficient sanitation are threats to human health, mainly in more impoverished parts of the world. Emissions and climate change risk reducing the supply of clean water and competition for drinking water can in turn lead to armed conflicts.

At the University of Gothenburg, researchers and students are studying the Earth’s supplies of surface water, groundwater and seas. Studies are under way of how water is used, and work is being done to improve sanitation. Another important area that research teams are interested in are how we can recycle resources from the water.

Glaciers in Tibet

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg are working, among other things, on studies of glaciers on the Tibetan plateau, in cooperation with Chinese colleagues. There are ten of the world’s major rivers here, including the headwaters of the Mekong and Yellow River. More than one fourth of the world’s population depends on melt water from the glaciers. In spite of this, research on the glaciers’ extent and change process in relation to climate change has been virtually non-existent to-date. Work is under way to map earlier changes with the help of satellite images. Through measurement stations, researchers can get an overview of the current process and using data models, they can provide better forecasts of future development.

Complex mixes of chemicals in nature

Several research projects are also under way regarding pollutants in water. Researchers are investigating, for example, how various substances interact and strengthen one another. Microplastics, which are small microscopic remains of consumed plastic, are harmful in themselves, but chemicals can also bind to them. It is important to map the toxic effects and how they move in the ecosystems.

Studies are also under way on how chemicals interact with each other. Chemicals are assessed substance by substance, activity by activity - while in reality they act as complex mixtures in nature. Pollutants can consist of thousands of chemicals, and as yet we know little about how they affect each other. The researchers also see a need to develop methods for investigating what happens if a harmful chemical is replaced by a theoretically less harmful substance. This is to be able to establish the combined effect of various chemicals in pollutants.
Clean water is a key issue for a sustainable world. Through new knowledge, we have a better chance of creating conditions for clean water.

This is goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition.

By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

Source: The UN's Official wesite for Sustainable Develpoment Goals


Hydrogeologi within the field of Geography and Earth Sciences: 


Page Manager: Erika Hoff|Last update: 2/5/2018

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