Water scarcity is a lack of fresh water resources to meet the water demand of a population. It affects every continent in the world and was listed in 2019 by the World Economic Forum as one of the largest global risks in terms of potential impacts. Clean water is an essential resource for human and environmental health. But with the world’s population now over 7 billion people, it is under multiple pressures.
One of the greatest pressures occurs when water shortages are caused by climate change. At the same time the world population is climbing, overuse of fossil fuels causes air pollution, contributing to the greenhouse effect. This air pollution results in acidification of the oceans, damaging marine habitat. The resulting global warming contributes to altered weather patterns, including droughts or floods, increased pollution, and increased human demand for water.
Water scarcity is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region. It effects every continent and around 2.8 billion people around the world at least one month out of every year.
Water scarcity can mean scarcity in availability due to physical shortage, or scarcity in access due to the failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.
Water scarcity is a rapidly growing concern around the globe, but little is known about how it has developed over time. This study provides a first assessment of continuous sub-national trajectories and water scarcity.
If global temperatures continue to rise, rainfall will increasingly become a beast of extremes: long dry spells here, dangerous floods there – and in some places, intense water shortages. As early as 2025, the World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. (Stanford Earth).
Loïc Fauchon, president of the World Water Council, speaks to Gitika Bhardwaj about the causes of water scarcity around the world and how best to implement sustainable solutions. (Chatham House).