Water rises to top as 'most urgent' sustainability challenge

Water scarcity, climate change and poverty are now society's most urgent challenges according to hundreds of sustainability experts across the world.

Almost 900 qualified sustainable development experts and practitioners across more than 60 countries were asked for their views on the issues most urgent for particular industry sectors, and also which sectors were most accountable for reducing their impact on, or providing solutions for, each issue.

While water scarcity is a top concern for Europeans and those in emerging markets, climate change as an urgent issue trumped all others in North America. Within government, water scarcity and food security were ranked highest suggesting that among politicians, the two are strongly interlinked.

According to respondents, no one sector is managing the transition to sustainable development effectively. Despite this, all sectors except forest products were believed to have demonstrated some incremental improvement since 2000.

It was widely thought that the agricultural/food and beverage, oil/gas and chemical industries were seen as the most accountable industry sectors in terms of sustainability.

However their perceived low performance in managing the transition to sustainable development points to opportunities for leadership and collaboration. Of these industries, agriculture/food and beverage was best ranked in terms of sustainability performance.

Maxine Perella


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