Moving to a more sustainable long-term model for managing water supplies is essential if we are to avert a future water crisis. However, many countries still lack access to even basic clean water. The World Bank estimates that the poorest countries need to spend around $150 billion a year just to deliver safe and clean water for all.
In this climate, is it realistic to expect countries to achieve water sustainability? Where do we stand regarding water sustainability at the moment and what can be done to improve the situation in the future?
Water is essential to life on this planet. Yet there are signs that freshwater supplies are becoming more and more scarce. According to the UN, around 2 billion people – over 25% of the global population – already live in countries experiencing high water stress and it’s predicted that around 700 million people could be displaced by extreme water scarcity by 2030. One of the key challenges is climate change, which is disrupting the global water cycle and affecting water supplies in a number of ways.
With water making up around 70% of the earth’s surface, you might not think that water shortage would be a problem affecting us anytime soon. However, a worrying report from the World resources Institute (WRI) released last year revealed that around one-quarter of the global population face living in conditions of extremely high water stress.
To build a water efficient society, we need to change the way we use and manage water. This is especially the case for businesses, as around 88% of the global water supply is used for commercial purposes. Companies looking to implement a sustainable water strategy should not underestimate the strength of getting their communications right, to ensure that their message reaches the necessary people in the right way. Engaging and informing stakeholders about the strategy and efforts on water management can strengthen the measures and enforce the saving potential.
Day zero. It sounds like the title of an apocalyptic horror movie. Yet these two words have a real world meaning referring to the water crisis currently threatening a number of the world’s cities. This year, Cape Town prepared itself for a “day zero” – a dreaded day when water reserves become so low that central water supplies are turned off and the resource of water becomes rationed. This has now been put back to 2019.
With several advantages, few negatives and low costs, it’s perhaps surprising that water efficiency hasn’t garnered the same attention as energy efficiency in the green building drive. But this presents an opportunity for forward-thinking planners and developers to gain an edge and take the lead where water-related technologies and solutions are concerned, rather than waiting for the policy-makers to catch up.
We are all aware that water is our planet’s most valuable resource. Without enough of it, the human race would cease to exist. Which is why recent research predicting that there won’t be enough water to meet global demands by 2040 is deeply concerning. However, although current freshwater levels are depleting while the global population continues to grow, the looming crisis is not one that cannot be averted.
For many years, sustainable water management was not a top priority for real estate companies. Sustainable construction was considered expensive and nothing more than a way to comply with the regulations. Today, however, sustainability has become a key aspect in the sector and an opportunity to create added value. Sustainable buildings are more profitable, and not only for the obvious reasons.