Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Water crises seen as a top threat in next decade

Lou Del Bello in Pressure on fresh water resources may be the main global threat in the next decade, but the world is failing to mitigate the risk and avoid a crisis, according to a survey of leaders from business, government, universities, international organisations and NGOs by non-profit foundation the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Published in its Global Risks 2015 report released ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week (21-24 January), the survey reveals a belief that water crises pose the greatest risk in terms of global impact. This places it ahead of hazards such as the spread of infectious diseases, the failure to adapt to climate change and interstate conflict, prompted by the rise of the Islamic State.

The WEF defines water crises as a significant decline in freshwater quality and quantity, resulting in damage to human health or economic activity or both. The report points to a study projecting that, by 2030, the global demand for water will exceed sustainable supplies by 40 per cent. Most of the world’s water supply is currently used in agriculture, according to the UN, with the World Bank predicting that food demand will rise by fifty per cent in the next two decades, as population grows and dietary habits change.

The looming shortages may be aggravated by an 85 per cent increase in water demand from the energy sector by 2035, the International Energy Agency anticipates....

Lake Vianden in the Netherlands, shot by Vincent de Groot -, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license 

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