GDP will be ‘severely hampered’ by water scarcity, warns HSBC

HSBC has invested $100m in a five-year Water Programme set up in partnership with WaterAid, WWF and Earthwatch, after reporting that gross domestic product (GDP) will be affected by water scarcity.

The initiative aims to deliver water provision, protection and education globally and is expected to play a significant role in enabling the NGOs reach more people.

The launch of the programme also coincides with the release of a new report by HSBC which concludes that the World’s economic growth is likely to be “severely hampered” by water scarcity – unless action is taken to improve water quality management at river basins and wastewater efficiency.

The report ‘Exploring the links between water and economic growth’, produced by Frontier Economics for HSBC, also finds that “competing demands” for water and freshwater resources are increasing in line with population and economic growth.

It states that the global water challenge is “multidimensional” adding that tackling water challenges will require industries, agriculture and households to address how efficiently and effectively freshwater is used.

It also questions how investments to improve water productivity should be made, as well as considering the potential for policy reform to address water shortages.

The report also claims that investing in access to safe water and sanitation will generate an annual economic gain globally of $220bn, while countries could gain a return on investment of $5 for every $1 spent.

Water treatment specialist B & V Water Treatment environmental chemist Yolla McCoy said that people need to take action to change their eating daily habits to help address future water shortages.

She said: “Actions can include eating less meat which is around ten times more water intensive than crops, eating sustainable grown local food to reduce transportation costs, and reducing food waste, currently running at around 30%.

“Developing agricultural and technological processes and practices to reduce water waste is vital in ensuring stability of water supply throughout the world – but changing our everyday eating habits is another essential way to help combat water scarcity.”

Carys Matthews

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