Report: 25% of global population faces extremely high water stress
New data from the World Resources Institute (WRI) reveals that one-quarter of the global population, residing in 25 countries, experience extremely high water-stressed conditions every year.
This is based on WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, a part of WRI’s information platform reporting on water-related risks to governments, companies, and NGOs since 2011.
The data also confirms that a minimum of 50% of the world’s population face high levels of water stress for at least one month every year.
WRI notes that smaller gaps between water supply and demand indicate higher vulnerability to water shortages. Where a country accessing at least 80% of its supply falls under the “extreme water stress” scenario and with a 40% consumption rate falls under the “high water risk” scenario.
The most water-stressed nations include Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Qatar, while 83% of the population in the Middle East and North Africa and 74% in South Asia remain exposed to extremely high water-stressed conditions.
The Aqueduct data predicts an increase in the global water demand of 20% to 25% by 2050, which would cause 100% of the population residing in the Middle East and North Africa to experience extremely high water stress by 2050.
WRI is warning that a failure in implementing better water management policies can expose 31% of global GDP ($70trn) to high water stress by 2050, up from 24% ($15trn) in 2010, including 7% to 12% projected GDP losses in India, China and Central Asia.
It is evident that water-related risks and insecurities are a global concern, impacting consumers, water-reliant industries and financial and political stability worldwide.
Recommendations to curb the crisis
WRI is urging countries to enhance water governance, promote water-efficient agriculture, adopt integrated water management, and invest in nature-based solutions for water infrastructure. It is also suggesting that water-scare nations to prioritise water-efficient energy sources.
Additionally, it is proposing the formation of urban water resilience plans and wastewater reuse systems, alongside the adoption of water-efficient irrigation methods and crops by farmers.
Recent CDP reports revealed that even though a majority of businesses and financial institutions now have climate-based targets and strategies, most of them fall short of the required water-related reporting and policies.
WRI is advocating for companies to establish science-based water targets aligned with sustainability, while urging international lenders to offer strategic debt relief, like debt-for-nature swaps, to encourage biodiversity and resilient infrastructure investment.
Hear from water security experts at edie’s next FREE webinar
Experts from WWF, BSI and Anglian Water Services will speak on edie’s next FREE webinar, which is being hosted on Thursday 24 August to mark World Water Week.
This webinar will bring together sustainability leaders and water management experts to share tools, insights and practices that accelerate innovation and drive global water security. Topics covered will include water efficiency, eliminating pollution and conserving and restoring natural habitats.
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