We know less about one of world's most pressing challenges today than we did 10 years ago. It's no secret that water - or the lack thereof - will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. And yet, the United Nations World Water Report, in 2009, stated that when it comes to water, "less is known with each passing decade."
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first World Water Day, an international celebration designed to draw attention to the importance of freshwater resources. However, for a large and growing proportion of the world’s population, every day is a World Water Day. Difficult, complex water challenges including drought, groundwater depletion, pollution, and clean drinking water availability are growing in urgency and seriousness all around the world. Some even argue that we should boycott World Water Day – that our water problems are too serious to try and confine to a single day.
In January, Brian Richter, director of freshwater strategies at The Nature Conservancy, spelled out four water resolutions through a thought-provoking series of blog posts. One of those resolutions was to better understand and communicate the differences between water use and water consumption. This is a particularly important issue, as there has been a lot of discussion lately about water scarcity, water stress, and the risks associated with them.
On February 20, WRI President Andrew Steer participated in event with GreenBiz CEO Joel Makower at the annual GreenBiz summit in New York City. This post builds off that discussion.
Prior to the creation of the global Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, indicators were developed and tested in a number of river basins worldwide. The results of the Yellow River Basin Study helped inform and shape the global Aqueduct Water Risk Framework.
The Yangtze River Basin (YZB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 14 water-related indicators across the Yangtze River Basin in China. The YZB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
The Orange-Senqu River Basin (ORB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 14 water-related indicators across the Orange-Senqu River Basin in Southern Africa. The ORB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
The Colorado River Basin (CRB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 12 water-related indicators across the Colorado River Basin in the United States and Mexico. The CRB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
Owens Corning, a multinational building materials manufacturer, conducted a global geographic water risk assessment using WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. This assessment aims to identify which of Owens Corning’s manufacturing plants are located in areas facing water supply-related risks. Companies and investors can use this paper to deepen their understanding of external water supply-related threats and learn how to use the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to inform their corporate water strategies.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos two weeks ago, I was struck by how often the issue of water risk was raised by business executives. As the global economic turmoil is receding, many CEOs and global leaders are turning to other threats—and water is high on the list. For the second year in a row, water crises were named among the top four global risks at the WEF.
Water is very complicated. It’s affected by large-scale issues like climate change and globalization. International commerce moves virtual water (the water it takes to grow or produce a product) from farms in Brazil to grocery stores in China and Egypt.
This working paper describes the Aqueduct Water Risk Framework, the indicators it includes, and the methodology used to combine them into aggregated, comprehensive risk scores.
This working paper provides data sources, methodology, and maps for Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas of 12 global indicators grouped into three categories of risk and overall risk.
Prior to the creation of the global Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, indicators were developed and tested in a number of river basins worldwide. The results of the Mekong River Basin Study helped inform and shape the global Aqueduct Water Risk Framework.
The days leading up to Hurricane Sandy’s landfall were a testament to the power of global data systems in helping to understand and manage risks that natural phenomena can create. A vast, worldwide network of weather monitoring stations and sophisticated remote sensing allowed meteorologists to track and predict Sandy’s progress—and give ample warning to those of us in the hurricane’s path.
The Yellow River has played a critical role in the growth and prosperity of Chinese civilization for thousands of years. But today, the Yellow and the people who depend on it face severe challenges. Stress of limited water resources, pollution, and flooding pose significant risks to communities and businesses that rely on the river. As these stresses grow, China’s water managers and users face the daunting challenge of implementing policies that balance economy, ecology, and community.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) Markets and Enterprise Program conducted a global geographic water risk assessment with multinational electronics manufacturer AU Optronics (AUO).
“To tell the story of the corporation is to tell the story of a grand bargain gone awry,” says Pavan Sukhdev in his new book, Corporation 2020: Transforming Business for Tomorrow’s World. It’s a bold statement, but he backs up his claim persuasively. While many companies are reaching record profits, they’ve oftentimes come at the expense of ecological degradation, rising greenhouse gas emissions, unemployment, spikes in food and fuel costs, and social inequalities.
As much of the United States continues to suffer through what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, there is growing concern over how broad and severe the impacts may be. Events like this drought—which are projected to become increasingly common should climate change continue unabated—provide a sharp reminder of how heavily communities and global economies rely on water.