Water nurtures life—and economies—in every part of the planet. More than 1.5bn people work in water-related sectors, and agriculture accounts for 70% of the water withdrawn from surface and underground sources worldwide. Yet more than 600m people globally do not have access to clean drinking water and a staggering 2.4bn lack adequate sanitation.
The challenge of water provision will only grow: by 2025, 1.8bn people will live in countries with absolute water scarcity, and by 2050 water withdrawals for agriculture will need to increase by 15% to sustain production.
In water-scare regions, collaboration among stakeholders is crucial to managing water resources, but cooperation is no less important in water-abundant regions. Indeed, the competing interests of energy, industry and agriculture threaten the sustainability of water security in the longer term. Our new report, Water security threats demand new collaborations: Lessons from the Mekong River Basin—sponsored by DuPont—highlights the challenges facing water security in this economically vibrant region, and the current efforts stakeholders are making to confront these challenges.
The report analyses the threat new hydropower construction poses to agriculture and fisheries, the risks urbanisation and agricultural run-off pose to water quality, and the likelihood that a changing climate will exacerbate drought and flooding in the region. It also provides an informative case study of the need for effective water governance to minimise the many threats water insecurity poses to global social and economic well-being.
Global Director of Public Policy
The Economist Intelligence Unit