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Top Global Risk- Any Guesses?

January 24, 2015
River Ganga (Ganges) at Narora India

River Ganga (Ganges) at Narora, India

Did you guess that its terrorism, human trafficking or the nuclear war? Wrong!

World Economic Forum (WEF) 2015 ranked water crisis as the top global risk this week. Having observed the profound impact that quantity and quality of water can have over communities, it comes as no surprise to someone like me.

I also believe that we have to consider a few points while accessing water as top global risk:


  1. Agriculture water productivity: The competition for limited resource and growing demand with increasing world population.  There is also the issue of the quality of water used for irrigation, and the crops produced.

    Abandoned pond (tank), a traditional rainwater harvesting body ©NeerFoundation,India

    Abandoned pond (tank), a traditional rainwater harvesting body ©NeerFoundation,India

  2. Water and energy nexus: We need water to irrigate the crops and electricity for water supply and withdrawing the ever depleting groundwater. e2abb10389aa4d5caa32e2af81df250f244d8e87534c95b3441105bdfd51ef76
  3. Blue green cities: With the unprecedented rate of urbanization, water bodies and green spaces are a challenge to maintain and develop, as the land availability in the cities is a scarce commodity.

    Sunset at Sangam, Allahabad, India ©NitinKaushal/WWF-India

    Sunset at Sangam, Allahabad, India ©NitinKaushal/WWF-India

  4. Geopolitical sensitivities: India and China come to mind at once. Both are struggling with limited water resources and grappling the shared waters resources (primarily from rivers) as much as possible. The potential for shared management of water as a means to achieve regional co­operation and conflict prevention is vital. India, as both an upper and lower riparian nation, finds itself at the centre of water disputes with its eastern and western downstream neighbors — Bangladesh and Pakistan, who accuse New Delhi of monopolizing water flows.

    Promotion by Aqaufina

    Promotion by Aqaufina

  5. Water quality, availability, and business impact: Dialogue surrounding the global water challenge tends to focus on supply, but we hear much less about the quality of our water. Water availability and quality not only has an impact on the businesses but also on the communities in their vicinity.

    A leaking wastewater pipeline

    A leaking wastewater pipeline

  6. Economics of traditional water management systems: Operation and maintenance of the water supply systems is antiquated and labor intensive, in most developing countries. It takes a lot of money, resources and will to ensure that these systems are up and running.   shutterstock_54898747
  7. Last but not the least climate change: India also has challenges, as the neighboring Bangladesh, because of the rising sea levels.  Bangladesh is one of the most threatened countries, when it comes to sea level rise issue because of climate change.

Identifying water as top global risk is work half done. It will take a multi-stakeholder and multi-pronged approach to understand what this risk means for the world.

The opinions expressed in this article are entirely of the author. To read on the sources cited in this article, please visit the original websites by clicking the hyperlinks.

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