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A loud appeal to all Member States of the United Nations for declaring “The YEAR 2023: The Year of Groundwater”.

By Yogendra Babu Sharma

Exponential population growth and increasing demand for food have put enormous environmental challenges, particularly on water resources. Consequently, the combined effect of increased demand for freshwater and reduced water availability particularly in arid to semi-arid climates has led to groundwater overdraft. The evidence on groundwater exploitation suggests that groundwater systems are facing increasing pressure and there has been a significant modification in groundwater aquifers across the globe. Worldwide, groundwater levels are reducing, which clearly indicates the deterioration in health and services of several ecosystems. This unprecedented stress on groundwater systems in recent times is dangerous because groundwater systems on the Earth are an integral part of any ecosystem which delivers services to a range of biotic and abiotic resources.

Water in its all three physical forms: solid, liquid, and gaseous has always been central to the existence and survival of all human civilizations, however, the close linkages between groundwater and ecosystem services are still not recognized and often undervalued. In brief, the management of groundwater is mostly found invisible in the policy-making of a number of countries. Scientifically, groundwater systems have a positive correlation with their surrounding environment such as land, forest, and hydrology which provides recharge through precipitation.

In order to inform the policies governing groundwater resources and to inspire human actions across the globe particularly by embedding these efforts into mitigation and adaptation majors towards climate emergency, it is vital to recognize the role of groundwater in the continuance of many ecosystem services. Although the literature is rich in documenting the crucial role that groundwater plays in the economy by meeting water demand for the domestic, irrigation, and agriculture sectors; there has been relatively little research and empirical studies on identifying the linkages between groundwater systems and various ecosystem services.

Thankfully, the current year’s theme for World Water Day 2022 is focused on “Groundwater: making the invisible visible”, which is good news for all stakeholders involved in groundwater management. Considering a good opportunity that ‘World Water Day 2022’ offers to make ‘groundwater visible’ in the policy-making at the national and international level, the celebrations shall administer an oath on 22nd March 2022 with a loud appeal to all Member States of the United Nations for declaring “The YEAR 2023: The Year of Groundwater”. Such historical declaration will be revolutionary in bringing a remarkable change by launching a year-long global campaign for mass awareness, protection, and recharge of our precious groundwater resources in the world.

About the Author
Yogendra Babu Sharma (Oxonian) is with the CGWB, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India.

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