The Economic Implications of Global Water Stress

Jun 13, 2024 | 15:37 GMT

The Geopolitics of Water
The Geopolitics of Water

(Getty Images; RANE)

Water distress risks destabilizing economies across the globe, increasing the threat of cross-border migration flows while contributing to intra-regional economic divergence. A range of factors is stressing water supplies around the world, including climate change and changing weather patterns, as well as population growth, rapid urbanization, industrialization, and the use of agricultural techniques that drain groundwater. In 2020, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) considered global water stress, defined as freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of freshwater resources, to be at a "safe" level of less than 19%. However, stress levels differ dramatically around the world, ranging from high in Southern Asia and Central Asia to critical in Northern Africa. In a report published in October 2023, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) also estimated that "by 2050, around 46% of global GDP could come from areas facing high-water risk" compared with the current 10%. ...

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