Lack of water is one of the greatest threats to humanity. However, since it is getting drier, new solutions are needed. UN experts think creatively.

Experts from the United Nations and other institutions advocate the use of “unusual water resources” to counteract the increasing drought in some regions of the world. In a new book they mention, among other things, the extraction of water from icebergs or fog.

The development of new sources is particularly important in areas such as the Middle East and North Africa, they write in the book, which was produced with the collaboration of the UN University and the UN agricultural organization FAO.

According to a statement, every fourth person is faced with water shortages, for example for drinking water, sanitation and agriculture. The book lists several ways that additional fresh water can be obtained. This includes extracting water from the atmosphere, primarily from clouds and fog. In Peru, Chile, Morocco and South Africa, for example, nets have been used for more than 100 years to harvest liquid from moist air.

Lack of water as a threat

The director of a UN University-affiliated water think tank, Vladimir Smakhtin, said: “As climate change worsens and global population grows, water scarcity is one of the greatest threats to human development and security, hence this authoritative analysis of unconventional water resources is both timely and important.”

The experts see another possibility in the polar regions: “The more than 100,000 Arctic and Antarctic icebergs that melt in the ocean every year contain more fresh water than the world uses,” it said. In Greenland and Canada they are already being used for the drinking water supply. One challenge is bringing the ice (or water) to the dry and often hot regions of the world.

Other measures proposed in the book are the desalination of seawater and better harvesting and use of rainwater. The development of new sources of fresh water and improved water purification in many developing countries are also seen as a way of meeting the need for fresh water.