Water shortages will put 5 billion people at risk by 2050, U.N. warns
Almost half of the world’s population — some 3.6 billion people — currently live in areas vulnerable to water scarcity.
Water quality issues and increased demand for water due to a growing global population will combine to put the world’s freshwater resources at risk, explains the World Water Development Report, released Monday.
The report warns of risks of increased conflicts and threats to human civilization unless action is taken to reduce stress on lands and wetlands.
This ecosystem degradation is the main cause behind increased “water-related risks and extremes,” the report explains.
Therefore, over the coming decades, the biggest expected growth in water demand will come from industry and domestic use.
The greatest exposure to these impacts will come in low- and lower-middle income countries because of greater expected population and economic growth in these areas.
About 30 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in areas at risk of routine flooding and drought.
By 2050, between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people will live in regions that will be water-scarce for at least one month each year.
For agriculture, the report also recommends using practices that will help improve efficiency as well as soil quality.
And, as the report highlights, “given the transboundary nature of most river basis, regional cooperation will be critical to addressing projected water quality challenges.” Pointing to these growing trends of water pollution and environmental degradation combined with increased water demand, Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco, which commissioned the report, said: “These trends pose broader challenges from the increased risk of floods and droughts, which in turn has an impact on our ability to adapt to climate change.