The United Nations ‘celebrated’ World Water Day on March 22 by needlessly taking away scarce funds for clean water programs and transferring them to alarmist climate propaganda. In the process, the United Nations assured more children around the world are denied access to clean, safe water.

According to UN figures, 2.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed water services. Also, over half the global population lacks safely managed sanitation services. As a result, approximately 300,000 children die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or poor drinking water.

The United Nations collects over $50 billion in annual revenue. Yet, core humanitarian programs go unfunded. For example, the UN announced in August 2019 that it closed down several humanitarian programs in Yemen – including clean water programs – due to unavailable funds.

On World Water Day, the UN revealed where much of the missing water went. Instead of providing clean water to people in need, it funded yet another climate change report from the bureaucratic establishment. “On World Water Day, the United Nations launched a flagship report which says that reducing both the impacts and drivers of climate change will require major shifts in the way we use and reuse the Earth’s limited water resources,” explained a March 22 UN press release. The 235-page report doubtlessly consumed hundreds of thousands of dollars, at the very least, in bureaucratic working hours, payments to outside contributors, printing and distribution costs, and additional overhead. Meanwhile, more children died from lack of clean water while the bureaucracy diverted clean water funding to the alarmist climate report.

“Water is the primary medium through which we perceive the effects of climate disruption,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a World Water Day UN press release. Guterres explicitly mentioned drought and floods as examples of such “disruption.”

Yet, the United Nations’ own climate report says exactly the opposite. Regarding drought, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports with “high confidence” that precipitation has increased over mid-latitude land areas of the Northern Hemisphere (including the United States) during the past 70 years, while IPCC has “low confidence” about any negative trends globally. (See https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Chapter3_Low_Res.pdf, p. 191.)

Regarding floods, the UN observes that the increase in precipitation has not caused any observed increase in flooding. The IPCC reports low confidence in any climate change impact on floods, and even acknowledges that climate change is as likely to have reduced flooding frequency and severity as it has to make them worse. (See https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/SREX-Chap3_FINAL-1.pdf, p. 112.)

So, rather than devoting scarce resources to providing clean, safe water to people in need on World Water Day, the United Nations instead propped up its global bureaucracy by diverting money to another lengthy, alarmist, misleading climate report.

Speaking about the lack of funding for water projects and other humanitarian projects in Yeman, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande said, “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”

Yes, Lise Grande and UN bureaucrats, you should definitely be ashamed of yourselves.

James Taylor (JTaylor@heartland.org) is Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and President of the Heartland Institute.

James Taylor is Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.

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