Water is the most essential and precious commodity on earth, without water life cannot be sustained. Water is as important to the world’s economy as oil or data. Every year we extract 4.3 trillion cubic metres of fresh water from the earths fresh water supply. On a global average 70% of water is used by agriculture, 19% by industry and households use 11%.
More than a billion people do not have daily access to safe drinkable water and more than two billion do not have access to basic sanitation facilities.
Water is the lifeblood of humanity. With it, communities thrive. But, when the supply and demand of fresh water are misaligned, the delicate environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we all rely are at risk. Climate change, demographic shifts, and explosive economic growth all exacerbate existing water issues.
“Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right. It is essential for human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.” (Pope Francis, 2017).
Though water law has significantly evolved over the last couple of decades, it still needs to confront the major challenges ahead. For instance, authorities in several countries are already managing the distribution and quality of water, which fall on the supply side of water.
Water is a resource that we in Australia need to protect as we live on the second driest continent on earth, the other is Antarctica. We also need to understand who owns the water, what is it being used for and where it is going. With foreign ownership of water here in Australia, is this a major concern? Do we, Australia, lose our human rights due to foreign ownership?
Caring for ecosystems demands farsightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than economic benefits to be obtained.
All industries rely on water in some way. A company’s water footprint can be seen in four key areas of its value chain: raw materials, suppliers, direct operations, and product use.
Water risk is not a worry to be addressed in some nebulous future. The supply of fresh water has been steadily decreasing while demand has been steadily rising. In the 20th century, the world’s population quadrupled—but water use increased sixfold. The strain is already apparent. In 2018, in the midst of a severe drought, Cape Town, South Africa, came close to experiencing a so-called Day Zero, where the city would have literally run out of water. We in Australia have just gone through, with some regional areas still experiencing it, the longest and driest drought in our history.
Water stress is a risk multiplier. Alone, it is a powerful risk with the potential to upend socioeconomic and ecological systems. When compounded with other risks, such as those related to food and energy systems, politics, and infrastructure, it becomes detrimental.
Over the next month we will be discussing how businesses and individuals can conserve water and methods to clean up creeks and rivers for environmental use.
Please feel free to contact Green Specifier with ideas, potential products that can help us all conserve our water.