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Can water consumption be decoupled from economic growth?

Economic growth has been identified as one of the key factors contributing towards accelerating global water scarcity, as population expansion and growing urbanisation add to the pressures on finite freshwater resources. The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) published a report in 2016 looking into the potential for decoupling water consumption from economic growth – essentially, moving to more sustainable forms of water use without reducing growth – stating that half the world could face severe water stress by 2030 unless this is achieved. But how can this be done in practice and how likely will this be?

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