Taking water for granted? Think again!
The world is starting to realize that water is not an infinite good. The risks related to water supply, considering the fact that water is a finite resource while global demand is constantly growing, is gaining more and more attention. Several respectable organizations have recently published papers on this topic and they all agree that water supply challenges are a major global threat.
WEF: 2nd highest global risk
The World Economic Forum has published last month its Global Risks 2012 report, which is based on a survey of 469 experts from various backgrounds that examines 50 global risks. According to this comprehensive report, water supply crises represent the 2nd highest global risk in terms of its impact (second only to the risk of a major systematic financial failure) and the 5th highest in terms of likelihood over the next 10 years. The report also suggests that water supply crises are connected to food shortage crises, and both stand out in terms of impact and likelihood from other societal risks.
Since the production of many goods depends on water, the risk of water shortage is expected to impact other important resources such as food and energy. The mining and the food industries, conventional energy and biofuels production are only a few significant consumers of water who will be highly affected by water scarcity, and the world won’t be the same without them.
Vivid Economics: Demand is increasing rapidly
While supply isn’t increased in a sufficient rate, global demand for water is expected to keep growing rapidly. According to Vivid Economics, the demand for water may grow by up to 55% by 2030. Obviously, the natural supply is not going to grow respectively, so something else must be done to balance the demand-supply equation, and whatever it is – it should happen soon.
Deloitte: Conflict threat
According to Deloitte’s report on the top 8 issues in the global water sector, “we have a finite resource for which demand will soon outstrip supply”. The authors even go beyond that, stating that “If we do not address these issues by creating frameworks at a global level and take action locally, there is the increasing threat of conflict as competition for water sources intensifies.”
Whose responsibility is it, anyway?
There is probably no single solution. Water providers, technology companies, regulators and global financial organizations such as the world bank will all play a key role. What’s clear is that everyone must play a part for a real change to take place. Without advanced technologies for desalination, treatment, reuse, water loss reduction and smart irrigation, current trends will persist. Legislators and regulators must exercise their power to impact demand, and more importantly, to ensure that waste is minimized.New restrictions and laws must be enacted and enforced in order to guarantee adequate use and correct pricing of water. Water suppliers must do their part by adopting the measures and technologies, and financing providers should make funds available to support this heavy undertaking. The clock is ticking and a global front for water is yet to be formed…