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Groundwater and human development: Synergies and trade-offs within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Groundwater and human development: Synergies and trade-offs within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

By Maya Velis, Kirstin I. Conti and Frank Biermann, published in: Sustainability Science

This article argues that groundwater - accounting for 98% of all fresh water on earth - is central to human development. Drawing upon studies at the regional and sub-regional level, this review article explores synergies and trade-offs between groundwater development and human development.

On one hand, groundwater exploitation may enhance human development. Groundwater’s ‘‘untapped potential’’ related to various aspects of human development involves:

  • Water supply for irrigation and domestic purposes;
  • Climate change adaptation and hydrological resilience;
  • Hydrogeological storage of CO2; and
  • Access to (renewable) energy.

On the other hand, human development may come at the expense of quality deterioration or depletion of groundwater. The review concludes that achieving a sound understanding of local groundwater characteristics and human impact on groundwater resources across scales is paramount to implementing the sustainable development goals in an integrated manner.

Groundwater and human development: Synergies and trade-offs within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)