Water is emerging as the number one global concern in terms of development; the global population is growing fast and estimates show that with current practices, the world will face a 40% shortfall between forecasted demand and available supply of water by 2030.
By 2025, 1.8 billion people, approximately 25% of the global population, will be living in regions of absolute water scarcity.
Globally there are growing pressures on water resources, with increasing independencies between users, uncertain aspects of climate change, the use of modern precision technology which requires highly purified water, and an associated increase in demands for reliable water services. In addition to these pressures, management of the resource is made further complicated by its trans-boundary and ‘virtual’ nature, which essentially means ‘territory’ pressures will impact globally. The ‘virtual’ quality of water refers to water used in the production process of an agricultural or industrial product, and when a country exports a water-intensive product to another country, it is said to export not just the product, but also water in a virtual form. This is important when evaluating water supply, demand and use. In the Middle East, for example, 90% of the water needed for food production will be met via the ‘import’ of virtual water. If pressures persist; this resource may decline in availability.
Water management is of global significance and a global responsibility
IMPACTS ON WATER SUPPLY AND DEMAND
- GLOBAL POPULATION GROWTH AND INCREASING LIVING STANDARDS
This is increasing water-demand
- ECOSYSTEM DEGRADATION
Due to over-exploitation and pollution
- CLIMATE CHANGE
This is putting stress on existing water supplies due to changing global precipitation patterns and increases in surface temperature
- INCREASING ENERGY COSTS
With implications for pumping water, applying fertilizers, and transporting products
- INFRASTRUCTURE AND POLICY
Distribution networks are aging, increasingly unreliable, or unable to cope with increasing demand, and many subsidy policies are poorly valuing water leading to unsustainable use. For example, in Oman, it is estimated that losses from the distribution network and flood irrigation methods amount to 40%.