World Population Day focuses the world’s attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development. When World Population Day was established in 1989, the world population was recorded at a little over 5 billion. Today, the global population stands at 7.5 billion. Although there has been a significant decline in fertility rate since 1989, nearly 80 million people are added to the world’s population every year.
Due to population growth and the effects of climate change, water-related hazards like floods, droughts, pollution and related issues are increasing in frequency and intensity. Also, an increasing population leads to an increasing demand on resources such as freshwater, food, and energy, often leading to degradation and pollution of the environment. As a consequence, many of IHE Delft’s education, research and capacity development activities contribute to the mitigation of the negative impacts of population growth. We highlight a few examples below.
Vietnam, with its many rivers, heavy rains and abundant coastlines, is a country prone to natural disasters. A growing population, periods of prolonged drought and climate change are increasing pressures on natural resources. With this in mind, local universities focusing on water management partnered with experts from abroad to share and improve knowledge.
IHE Delft has helped to strengthen the capacity of the Hanoi University of Natural Resources and the Water Resources University at institutional and management levels to implement education, research and training, and to improve the capacity of their staff in developing and transferring knowledge.
This programme has contributed to societal challenges in Vietnam around climate change resilience, created opportunities for Vietnamese and foreign SME's, and introduced new innovations in water management.
The West African coastal area hosts big infrastructure, major industries, tourism, agriculture and fishing activities as well as human settlements and its forerunners that drive economic growth and provide the livelihoods of many people. It is one of the most rapidly urbanizing areas in the world and in many of the West African countries the economic activities that form the backbone of national economies are located within the coastal zone.
However, population pressures and increasing exploitation of coastal resources have led to rapid coastal environmental degradation.Coastal ecosystems in West Africa now face a range of challenges, including coastal erosion, overexploitation of natural resources (such as fisheries and sand/gravel mining), marine and coastal pollution, rapid urbanization and unsustainable land use, and overall poor environmental governance.
To address these challenges, IHE Delft is involved in a study along the coastline of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo. The objectives of this study are to conduct a multi hazard and climate risk assessment of the coastal zone's vulnerability to climate change and climate variability, to assess the Cost Of Coastal zone Environmental Degradation, and to evaluate the most efficient options to protect the populations, the natural assets, the capital assets, the cultural assets and the activities of the selected pilot zones.
To address water scarcity caused by an increasing population, refugee influx and climate change, Jordan is tapping into resources such as seawater and brackish groundwater and maximizing wastewater reuse in agriculture. In support of this, IHE Delft is establishing training courses around these challenges at two local universities and at the local Water Authority.
Seawater desalination is part of the Red Sea Dead Sea project that includes the first seawater desalination plant in Jordan. It will desalinate 100 million cubic meters yearly, to be shared with Israel and the Palestinian Territories. We will develop training courses in capacity building, supplemented by water quality monitoring studies, which will help reduce chemical and energy consumption of the plant. In addition, we will design courses on diplomacy, which will focus on potential conflicts, negotiation and conflict transformation skills.
Finally, the number of brackish groundwater desalination plants in Jordan is rapidly increasing, but the salinity of the groundwater is causing technical problems, resulting in short lifetime of facilities. A toolbox of practical measures will be developed and disseminated to partners in order to increase water availability from the installations, at lower cost.