Pope Francis has warned against the ramifications of aggravating water scarcity across the globe, saying that the crisis could lead to a third world war.
“The right to water is essential for the survival of persons and decisive for the future of humanity,” Pope Francis said during a meeting with international experts participating in a ‘Dialogue on Water’ at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Friday.
“All people have a right to safe drinking water. I ask [myself] if in this piecemeal third world war that we are living through, are we not going toward a great world war for water?” he said.
Pope Francis pointed to the latest figures on water published by the United Nations and said that the world should not remain indifferent to the issue.
“Every day, a thousand children die of illness linked to water and contaminated water is consumed by millions of people every day… This situation must be stopped and reversed. Fortunately, this is not impossible, but it is urgent,” the pontiff said.
A report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this month warns that “groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly,” and described “water scarcities” as one of the key global problems.
“Mankind’s future ability to feed itself is in jeopardy due to intensifying pressures on natural resources, mounting inequality, and the fallout from a changing climate,” it said.
According to a 2016 UN report, nearly 663 million people “lack ready access to improved sources of drinking water, while the number of people without reliable access to water of good enough quality to be safe for human consumption is at least 1.8 billion.”