The importance of clean and readily available water is as necessary for the present as it is for the future. All countries, regardless of their location should promote clean water acts within their own boundaries and expect their neighbors to honor the same practice. Landlocked countries that are at the mercy of their neighbors’ use of water before it reaches their border are getting a second hand good, and it isn’t fair to compound the problem.
Currently there are 47 landlocked countries whose borders are neighbored by other countries or inland seas. Landlocked countries are dependent upon local water sources, salvageable water sources (through conversion of salt water in desalination efforts and storing rainwater), and transboundary rivers. Countries that live in a wet climate or have natural glacial melt supplying their water have their own supply, but should also ensure that the water leaves their countries in good quality for the sake of those who receive it.
Countries that are secondary receivers of water sources often receive water that is tainted with chemicals and human wastes from upstream activities, especially in poor areas of the world. Overuse of water in arid regions can also pose a problem, as it reduces the usable amount and concentrates the pollution within its volume. This degradation of the water resource threatens those that live within the borders and hampers their way of life in the present, as well as threatening the future of that country. If they in turn treat the water resource the same as the country before them, then whichever country receives it next may not have anything. This is why clean water should be a standard for everyone.
In the present, actions must be made by all countries to promote clean water standards within their country’s borders, and expect others to take a similar approach. Industry, agriculture, and residential uses of rivers and water ways all introduce different pollutants to the system. Old, outdated sewage systems (or no sewage systems at all) offer the most to water degradation and the spread of human to human diseases. The idea that the river is there for transporting garbage away is an outdated way of thinking that only hurts others. It is time for efficient river uses, river management, and watershed respect in order to keep the rivers healthy and supporting. The water must be respected or it will be a lost resource, especially in times to come.
In the future, world water resources will shift due to climatic change across the globe. Areas where countries depend on glacier melt as a water source might experience significant melt situations where the glaciers vanish completely, leaving little to rely on. In other areas, water demand upstream will erase the course of the river downstream, even creating scenarios where it doesn’t finish its course. Pollution in the volume decreasing rivers will escalate and create other problems, far beyond the destruction of the river ecosystem and the surrounding areas that depend on it. At least if it is clean, then other options can be put in effect to enhance its quantity. But if it isn’t even worth being a river due to the failed practice of promoting clean transboundary water, then the survival of the landlocked countries themselves are in jeopardy. It all starts with a little effort that can go a long way to ensuring that as a resource, it remains available for the generations to come.