Water covers 70 percent of our planet and yet it's becoming increasingly scarce. The situation is so serious that the World Economic Forum now ranks the water crisis as one of the top biggest risks to humanity.
Overall, the UN estimates some 26 percent of the world's population, or two billion people, lacked safe drinking water in 2020. As populations grow, water scarcity is set to get worse. The number of people with inadequate access to water is expected to rise to more than 5 billion by 2050, up from 3.6 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization.
There are several ramifications tied to water stress:
- Lack of access to safe, drinking water: 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.
2. Threat to wildlife and flora: Reduced access to clean water sources not only impacts human welfare in urban and rural areas, but is also claiming wildlife species, fragile ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them.
3. Unhealthy Economies: Water scarcity, aggravated by climate change, could cost some regions 6 percent of their GDP, as per the World Bank estimates. No wonder, S&P Global expects water scarcity to be one of the biggest climate-related threat to corporate assets like factories within the next few decades.
4. Migration and Conflicts: According to the UN, 700 million global citizens could be displaced from their homes due to water scarcity by 2030.