2016 UN World Water Development Report, Water and Jobs – Key Points and Excerpts

2016 UN World Water Development Report, Water and Jobs
World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) 2016 UN World Water Development Report, Water and Jobs

Between 2011 and 2050, the world population is expected to increase by 33%, growing from 7.0 billion to 9.3 billion, and food demand will rise by 60% in the same period. Furthermore, it is projected that populations living in urban areas will almost double, from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050.

Key Points and Excerpts

Water scarcity emerges from a combination of hydrological variability and high human use, which may in part be mitigated by storage infrastructure. While the risks of monthly water shortages are most severe in South Asia and Northern China, some significant risks of seasonal water scarcity appear on all continents. However, since this analysis is based on river basins, it does not address the most arid parts of the world, such as North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, through which no rivers flow.

Between 2011 and 2050, the world population is expected to increase by 33%, growing from 7.0 billion to 9.3 billion, and food demand will rise by 60% in the same period. Furthermore, it is projected that populations living in urban areas will almost double, from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050.

The OECD’s 2012 Global Environmental Outlook’s Baseline Scenario projects increasing strains on freshwater availability through 2050, with an additional 2.3 billion people expected to be living in areas with severe water stress, especially in North and South Africa and South and Central Asia. Another report predicts the world could face a 40% global water deficit by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario.

Water-use efficiency improvements are considered instrumental to address the projected 40% gap between demand and supply and mitigate water scarcities by 2030.

Overall, industry (including energy) uses about 19% of the world’s total water withdrawal. According to the IEA, energy uses about 15% of the total, which implies approximately 4% for large industry and manufacturing (but not including all the small- and medium-sized industries which receive water from municipal distribution systems). However, it is predicted that by 2050 manufacturing alone will increase its use by 400%. Water demand for energy, and electricity generation in particular, will also grow significantly (WWAP, 2014), as energy demand is expected to grow by more than one third in the period 2010-2035, with 90% occurring in non-OECD countries.

Globally, it has been estimated that between four to six million hectares and 20 million hectares of land are irrigated with untreated wastewater.

The World Bank estimates that degraded water quality costs Middle Eastern and North African countries between 0.5% and 2.5% of their annual GDP (World Bank, 2007a).

Estimates indicate that about 30% of global water abstraction is lost through leakage. Even in developed countries the loss in water supply systems can be higher than 30%, with cities such as London reaching 25%, and in Norway 32%.

It is estimated that improving water productivity to close the worldwide gap between supply and demand for water will cost US$50-60 billion annually over the next 20 years. With private sector investment comprising about half of that spending, positive returns could be expected in just three years.
In the agriculture sector, the potential savings from increased water productivity in irrigation could be as high as US$115 billion annually by 2030 (in 2011 prices). Moreover, the provision of more efficient water technologies to some 100 million poor farmers would generate an estimated direct total net benefit of US$100- 200 billion.

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