Groundwater and human development: synergies and trade-offs within the context of the sustainable development goals

Maya Velis*, Kirstin I. Conti, Frank Biermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

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 (a) water supply for irrigation and domestic purposes; (b) climate change adaptation and hydrological resilience; (c) hydrogeological storage of CO2; and (d) 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1017
Number of pages11
JournalSustainability Science
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Groundwater
  • Human development
  • Sustainable development
  • Synergies
  • Trade-offs

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