By Rich Bowden
A major study has found the Asian region, along with that of the Middle East and North Africa, as being most at risk from water stress. The study found key Asian economies of China, India as also being vulnerable to water shortages.
The report, delivered by advisory consultants Maplecroft, has developed a water stress index which gives lawmakers, business groups and populations an idea of the water stress risk their country faces. According to a Maplecroft news release, this index is calculated by “…evaluating the ratio of a country’s total water use, from domestic, industrial and agricultural use, against the renewable supply of water from precipitation, streams, rivers and groundwater.”
The study found the countries of Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Libya and Saudi Arabia as the top five economies at risk using the Water Stress Index criteria. However other major world economies identified as “high risk” by Maplecroft included India (29), China (40) and the USA (51).
The category “high risk” was defined by the study as being economies where demand exceeds 80 percent of total renewable water resources.
Principal Environmental Analyst at Maplecroft, Dr Matthew Bunce said in the Maplecroft statement that the Water Stress Index would help governments and businesses where to best direct their resources to ensure optimum water management.
“Water stress has implications for where and how companies should operate, as well as the sustainability of their activities,” he said.
Alyson Warhurst, CEO of Maplecroft added that business needed to make the first moves in water conservation, particularly in areas identified as “extreme risk” and “high risk.”
“Business requirements will increasingly compete with and have negative impacts upon local communities and their environments unless business takes the initiative to introduce integrated water management programs and ensure the conservation of water for all,” she said.
Ms Warhurst said that government needed to join with companies that are water conservation trailblazers to ensure appropriate water management.
“Some companies are doing this through a combination of education and technical initiatives such as well drilling and irrigation projects; and, we should learn from their examples. Governments, companies and investors need to be part of the solution as they face pressures from different stakeholders to ensure these are addressed, not least through the responsible management of supply chains that depend on significant water inputs,” she said.