Water is essential for human life – not only for the systems of the body, but also for the physical, social, economic, and political systems that sustain communities and countries. Unlike some other contributors to human existence, water has no substitute or alternative.
There is general consensus in the global community today that we are facing increasing water scarcity, deriving from both population growth and mistreatment of resources.
- The demand for water has increased with population growth to the point that delivering sufficient water to the world’s people has become a global challenge.
- In order to increase their access to water, humans often interfere with the water cycle itself.
- These manipulations, along with distribution challenges, mean that the world’s population increasingly does not have the quality of water where it needs it, in the form or quality in which it needs it, when it needs it.
Water shortages or water stress is exasperated by physical factors, such as arid climates where water is scarce, and economic factors, which affect those places where water sources exist, but the technology and resources to extract and manage the water do not.
The World Economic Forum has said of the current worldwide water situation:
“We are living in a water bubble, as unsustainable and fragile as that which precipitated the collapse in global financial markets. We use water unsustainably…we have overleveraged our water for the future; we have no means of paying this back. The bubble is bursting in some places with more to follow.”
In this section…
The World’s Water Supply
Water Supply and Consumption Out of Sync
Water and Human Development: The Millennium Development Goals
Water as a Human Right
Next: A Framework for Understanding: The World's Water Supply