Potable water is scarce and not equally distributed.
70% of the Earth’s surface consists of water, but only 1% can be used as drinking water. That water is moreover very unevenly distributed. Four countries – Brazil, Russia, Canada and the US – contain 10% of the world’s population but almost 40% of its water reserves. By contrast, China and India have more than 30% of the global population but only 10% of the water reserves.
Our consumption is high.
70% of global water consumption is used in agriculture and stock farming; industry uses 20%, while 10% ends up in our domestic taps. On average, each of us consumes more than 100 litres of water per day.
Demand is increasing.
- There are more of us. That also means more of us to consume water. The global population is projected to grow by around two billion by 2050, to almost 10 billion.
- On top of that, water consumption is rising twice as fast as population growth, because our living standards are also rising. That is a particularly significant factor in emerging countries such as India and China. More households are gaining access to basic comforts such as a shower, toilet, washing machine, etc. And they are also consuming more: think of smartphones, cars, etc.: their production processes also consume thousands of litres of water.
The supply is declining.
More investments are needed.
To bridge the gap between supply and demand, we not only need to use water more sustainably. It is also crucial to invest. As a result of climate change, we will have to contend with more extreme weather conditions. To bridge periods of drought, but also to counteract flooding during periods of heavy rainfall, investments are needed in extra space to store water, such as in buffer and waiting basins, infiltration wells and cisterns.
According to research by McKinsey, no less than 11 700 billion USD is needed for investments in infrastructure in order to meet the demand for water by 2030. American President Biden's infrastructure plan seems to be a step in the right direction.