The efficiency of water management and our ability to sustain population and economic growth are inextricably linked. [...]
Today, 36% of the global population — approximately 2.4 billion people — already live in water-scarce regions and 22% of the world’s GDP ($9.4 trillion at 2000 prices) is produced in water-short areas. Moreover, 39% of current global grain production is not sustainable in terms of water use.
According to IFPRI’s analysis, current “business as usual” water management practices and levels of water productivity will put at risk approximately $63 trillion, or 45 percent of the projected 2050 global GDP (at 2000 prices), equivalent to 1.5 times the size of today’s entire global economy. Moreover, 4.8 billion people (52 percent of the world population) will be exposed to severe water scarcity by 2050.
This dire scenario will, in turn, have a significant impact on investment decisions, increase economic and operational costs, and affect the competitiveness of certain regions.
- “Business as usual” water management practices will put about $63 trillion of global GDP at risk by 2050. That’s 45 percent of the total.
- “Business as usual” practices would put 4.8 billion people — 52 percent of the world population — in water-stressed areas by 2050.
- Grey. No water productivity improvements; minor energy efficiency gains. Energy and water demand grows by 20 percent in OECD and 130 percent in non-OECD countries. Energy mix: nuclear and thermo electrical power generation.
- Low-carbon. That is, the water scenario as a result of adopting low-carbon energy. Surprisingly, the water impacts of biomass (some irrigation) and hydropower (evaporation from reservoirs) outweigh water savings from efficiency gains. Better than “grey,” but less productive than “business as usual.”
- Business as usual. Moderate improvements in leakage reduction; about 50 percent of water productivity gains realized. Energy and water demand increases by 10 percent in OECD and 110 percent in non-OECD countries. Energy mix: high share of conventional thermal electric generation, some renewable energy.
- Blue. Major improvements in leakage reduction and water efficiency gains. Energy demand grows at 19 percent in OECD and 110 percent in non-OECD countries. Energy mix: renewable energy increases from 19 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2030.