Project WET Senior VP John Etgen sent along the following picture from Stockholm, where he was attending World Water Week 2016:
The life-sized display highlighted one of the conclusions presented in the 2016 United Nations World Water Development Report: Water and Jobs, that three out of four jobs worldwide are dependent on water. The press release announcing the report goes on to warn that water shortages and lack of access may limit economic growth in the years to come:
From its collection, through various uses, to its ultimate return to the natural environment, water is a key factor in the development of job opportunities either directly related to its management (supply, infrastructure, wastewater treatment, etc.) or in economic sectors that are heavily water-dependent such as agriculture, fishing, power, industry and health. Furthermore, good access to drinking water and sanitation promotes an educated and healthy workforce, which constitutes an essential factor for sustained economic growth.
The report and display at World Water Week offer an appropriately cautionary view of the role water plays in the world economy, reminding all of us that we benefit not only from the water we use directly but also from the water that others use to create food, clothing, consumer goods and more.
Another view of the importance of water to jobs comes from the Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department Water Conservation Office in Georgia, on their Think at the Sink blog. While "How Water Can Pay Your Bills" highlights academic options specific to their hometown university, the University of Georgia, the water-related careers they describe are equally applicable across the United States and even around the world. In this iteration of the role of water in job, the focus is on the many opportunities that water offers as a broad career focus:
Environmental jobs are on the rise as America, and the developed world as a whole, are becoming more environmentally aware; citizens are being provided with more and more opportunities to make “green” decisions every day. Specifically, there are a wide variety of careers in the field of water resources, which all show promising futures as water resource issues are becoming vastly important economically, ecologically, and socially.
The post complements the conclusions of the influential 2013 Pacific Institute study Sustainable Water Jobs: A National Assessment of Water-Related Green Job Opportunities, which revealed some 136 different jobs involved in implementing sustainable water strategies, many of which have both a high growth potential and lower entry barriers for new professionals:
Thirty-seven of these job types are also projected to have high growth in the overall economy, with each projected to have more than 100,000 job openings across industries by 2020... Twenty-eight of the 37 occupations with 100,000 job openings by 2020 generally require on-the-job training, with some requiring previous experience and associate’s degrees or technical training, but not bachelor’s or graduate degrees.
From Stockholm to Athens, San Francisco to Bozeman, jobs and water remain a topic worth discussing from multiple angles.