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Why the world is fighting over water

Why the world is fighting over water

As the population of the world grows and the environment becomes further affected by climate change, access to fresh drinking water shrink. Let’s take a closer look at why water matters so much, and what are the issues the world is facing today.

The facts

We are made up of water, well, 60% of us to be precise. Our lungs are 83% water, even our bones have water (31%).

And every day we have to consume a certain amount of water to survive. How much have you had today? Is this article already making you thirsty?

Water is everywhere on Earth. It’s in the air as vapour, on the surface of the Earth in rivers, oceans, ice, plants and living organisms.

But while around 70% of the Earth is covered by water, less than 2.5% is fresh water, and less than 0.1 percent is available as clean drinking water.

It is estimated 783 million people on the planet today don’t have access to clean and safe water.

According to UNICEF, in Somalia alone more than 2.4 million children do not have access to clean drinking water. Children often have to walk over 10 kms a day to access water and even then, there is no guarantee it will be drinkable.

Waterborne diseases like Typhoid, Cholera and Giardia are a major problem in many communities.

While clean and safe water is vital to our survival, not everyone can take its access for granted.

Why the world is fighting over water

Water use

Every manufactured product uses water during some part of the production process.

Industrial water use includes water used for such purposes as fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s latest water report, only 15% of distributed water volume goes to households, with the electricity, gas, water and waste services industries using the bulk of it.

We are often told we don’t drink enough of it, but when it comes to industry, we are probably using too much of it.

According to National Geographic, humans have proved to be inefficient water users; the average hamburger takes 2,400 litres (or 630 gallons) of water to produce, and many water-intensive crops, such as cotton, are grown in arid regions.

Why the world is fighting over water

A political issue

Conflict over water is evidenced as far back as 4,500 years ago in modern-day Iraq (at the coming together of Tigris and Euphrates rivers).

Environment and ecosystems expert Reynard Loki suggests that as rivers are often shared between countries, often forming the boundaries of countries, changes to river systems threaten to destabilize several regions around the globe, many of which are already politically volatile.

“while the Tigris-Euphrates may be the best illustration of hydrological interdependence, recent and ongoing transboundary impacts at many of the world’s river systems threaten to destabilize several regions around the globe, many of which are already politically volatile.”

Recently China has been accused of ‘weaponising water’ and worsening droughts in Asia by erecting dams, barrages and other water diversion structures in its borderlands.

China is the starting point of rivers that flow to 18 downstream countries. No other country in the world serves as the riverhead for so many countries.

China currently has around 87,000 dams, included the world’s largest – Three Gorges Dam.

By controlling the upstream infrastructure, downstream countries are becoming more reliant on China’s goodwill. However, China has refused to enter into water-sharing arrangements with any downstream neighbour thus far.

Why the world is fighting over water

Outlook

Governments and organisations around the world have made remarkable strides to improve water access and quality in the last few decades.

When the world leaders articulated the SDGs, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation was declared one of humanity’s top priorities.

We can resolve the ‘water and sanitation crisis’ in our lifetimes, but this will require international cooperation and local conservation efforts.

What can you do to help?

We at Elevate Super believe one of the most impactful ways you can advance the SDGs is through the power of your investments. The underlying companies in the Elevate Balanced portfolio currently contribute around US$28.7 billion toward achieving SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation.

Tips and simple ideas to help you save water in your garden, kitchen, laundry and bathroom can be found on Watercorp’s website.

Elevate Super

About Elevate Super

Elevate Super is a retail super fund, powered by successful fintech AtlasTrend. AtlasTrend was created in 2015 to build a new investment service to help our customers learn and invest with purpose in long term world trends. At Elevate Super, we believe you shouldn’t have to give up competitive financial returns to do good.

We assess and measure investments based on their long-term growth fundamentals plus positive contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a global blueprint for balancing our economic, social and environmental needs.

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