The world is going through a water crisis, which could have huge implications on the global economy, according to a group of 30 international investors.
They wrote an open letter to governments regarding the water crisis, urging for action to be taken to improve water security and to take more risk accountability.
It stated: “The global water crisis is a systematic financial risk to nearly all economies and the climate crisis multiplies these threats.”
More than 2.3 billion people across the world reside in areas of water scarcity, and this problem is worsening due to the impact of climate change. In fact, there has been a 84 per cent drop in freshwater biodiversity since 1970, as a result of the gradual temperature increase over the last 53 years.
At the same time, pressure on freshwater is expected to rise by 40 per cent over the next 27 years.
The investors, who have $3 trillion (£2.4 trillion) in assets, want governments to look at the impact of water shortages, as they claim this is just as urgent as climate change.
They noted two studies to support their case, including one led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Researchers discovered that freshwater has transgressed so much that it poses a “threat to life support systems on earth”.
The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report also warned the world is nearing “disastrous tipping points”, with the investors stating: “Urgent system-wide action is needed now to increase resilience and reduce vulnerability of water resources, related ecosystems, communities and the economy to the effects of climate change.”
It was hoped the letter could reach governments ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference, which took place in New York last month (March 22nd to 24th). The event, which was co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands, saw heads of state gather to discuss the crisis.
The investors hoped it would allow governments to agree on financial decisions to protect water security on a global scale. However, they noted this could be limited by insufficient public investments, a lack of commitment to the cause, and not enough standardised and comparable corporate water disclosures.
Their aim is to have policies implemented across the world to ensure a “water secure economy” by 2030.
Secretary general of the UN Antonio Guterres agreed that more needs to be done to protect water resources across the world, stating the conference should “result in a bold Water Action Agenda that gives our world’s lifeblood the commitment it deserves”.
Following the event, governments and businesses from all over the world committed to spending billions of dollars for the agenda. This includes $49 billion from the US for climate-resilient water and sanitation infrastructure; $3.65 billion over the next five years from Japan to develop ‘quality infrastructure’; and $20 million from the EU to provide improved access to drinking water for 70 million people.
Over 700 commitments were made over the three-day conference, which were aimed at reducing water waste, boosting sanitation, and investing in resources.
Li Junhua, the UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs and the conference secretary-general, said: “A determined global community came together to make a difference not only for the future of water but for the future of the world.”