Too much, too little, too dirty. For the third consecutive year, reckless use and abuse of water is seen by global authorities as having the potential to seriously disrupt social stability, upend business supply chains, imperil food and energy production, and generally make life miserable for billions of people, according to the World Economic Forum's annual Global Risks report.
The various threats to the planet's supply of fresh water rank third – behind debt crises in key economies, and persistent unemployment – on the list of convulsive planetary threats of greatest concern to more than 700 business, government, and nonprofit leaders who responded to the Geneva, Switzerland-based think tank's annual survey. The latest Global Risks report, released today, is the ninth in a series that dates to 2006.
The various threats to the planet's supply of fresh water rank third on the list of convulsive planetary threats of greatest concern.
The security and quality of the world's water, however, goes even deeper than its bronze-level citation. At least three of the Top 10 risks identified in the World Economic Forum's survey are principally problems fundamentally involving water:
1. The failure to avert or adapt to climate change.
2. Floods and droughts fostered by extreme weather events.
3. Water scarcity and pollution at the root of food contamination and supply crises.
The Global Risks report uses a broad analytical lens. Its 60 pages of spider web charts and bold colors serve to highlight the complexity and interconnections between risks and regions. The strands are so tightly woven that no government, business, or charity acting alone can solve them, said the report's co-author Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, director and lead economist of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network.