Development news

Access to water – also a future issue in Sweden

February 11, 2022
Water and health. Photo: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

There is enough water on Earth. Just not everywhere – and for everyone. Water is of vital importance. Even so, about 700 million people struggle daily to gain access to drinking water, according to the United Nations. Now researchers at Uppsala University and the Uppsala University Sustainability Initiatives (UUSI) network want to spotlight injustices surrounding the world’s water.

Unequal water distribution is a major problem in many parts of the world, and often national interests clash with local interests. Water is to a very great extent a social, economic and political concern. It is also a significant factor when climate change comes up: when water is scarce as in the case of fires, when plentiful as in floods, and through increased use. That is why we need research that encompasses all aspects.

“So, when discussing water resources, you cannot just talk about water per se. The flow of water is connected with the flow of politics, money and people.”

Giuliano Di Baldassarre, UUSI network

Uncertain access to water in Sweden

Sweden – which generally has plenty of water – water shortages also have become a highly topical issue in recent years. Long periods of less precipitation than normal, such as during the extremely dry summer of 2018, have led to low groundwater levels in lakes, streams and groundwater reserves. Besides, from an environmental and climate change perspective, there is a large measure of uncertainty regarding Sweden access to water.

“Swedes absolutely need to be concerned about using water sustainably, both in Sweden and in other societies. Unequal access is socially and ecologically unsustainable, creating negative societal impacts at local, regional and transnational levels.”

Susann Baez Ullberg, senior lecturer in Social Anthropology, UUSI’s network coordinator

Uppsala University Sustainability Initiatives – UUSI

Uppsala University Sustainability Initiatives (UUSI) is a platform to strengthen the university’s research on sustainability issues. UUSI gathers the University’s researchers from various fields in interdisciplinary cooperation. UUSI works together with other universities, companies and organisations outside the university. The background of UUSI is Agenda 2030 with its 17 sustainable development goals.


Susann Baez Ullberg – senior lecturer in Social Anthropology, UUSI’s network coordinator

Giuliano Di Baldassarre – professor of Hydrology and Environmental Analysis, director of the Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science (CNDS)

Original article written by Anna Hedlund at Uppsala University.