By Bruno Sousa, Saji Sam, Eric Confais, Arnaud Delamare and Bruno Despujol, Oliver Wyman
25 percent of the world’s population is currently living in areas of extremely high water-stress, and by 2050 that portion of the population will more than double, according to Oliver Wyman estimates.
Combatting water scarcity is about managing and optimizing the use of available water resources across time and space. Technology and infrastructure play a critical role and can help to reduce the impacts of water scarcity in some regions.
Key water stress hot spots
Source: World Resources Institute, Aqueduct Country Rankings 2020
To tackle the objectives of SDG 6—the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to provide availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all—countries have defined water strategies and objectives. As a result, initiatives have been launched with defined targets related to water efficiency, from developing technology that cleans water to simply cutting back on water usage. And SDG 6 is just part of the challenge, as the need for sanitation has been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, experts and policymakers need to collaborate, to share proven solutions, to face up to the new challenges that lie ahead. Water a primarily scarce resource, is used by virtually all sectors of the economy and part of a very dynamic and unpredictable natural cycle, with continuous disruption on availability. Our new report highlights that countries need to take an integrated approach that considers their unique objectives, financial situation, and other factors.
To support the decision-making process, we outline an approach that countries can leverage to make informed choices that take the future state of the water sector and anticipated changes in demand into account.