Recently, companies and cities have begun joining forces to face water challenges

With water scarcity afflicting the globe and an ever-rising urban population, companies and cities have begun to team up in an effort to invest billions in water management projects, according to the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

Around the world, metropolises are collaborating with the private sector in order to tackle issues regarding climate change stressors and water, and according to a report released by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit environmental research group, there are 80 cities looking for US$9.5 billion worth of investments for water management projects.

Of these metropolises, the greatest investment opportunities lie in Latin America, where Sand Francisco de Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is seeking US$800 million to manage its water, with the investment going into constructing three hydropower stations as well as cleaning up its polluted waterways.

Meanwhile, according to the report, the metropolises that are more concerned about their water supply are in Asia and the Pacific, with some in Africa and Latin America. In these cities, the main issues are flooding, water quality, and water shortages.

For instance, Chennai, a city in India, was plagued by extreme floods in 2015, which disrupted the economy, took the lives of hundreds, and left survivors without clean, potable water. Now, however, the city is investing in raising its resilience to water crises in the future, including a new storm water management system, new infrastructure, and water conservation education.

“We are seeing critical shifts in leadership from cities and companies in response to the very real threat of flooding, for example, to local communities,” Morgan Gillespy, head of CDP’s water programme, said.

The report also found that cities in North America are more concerned with climate change, a more underlying threat to metropolises due to the increase in extreme weather events that range from floods to droughts. California is still in the grip of a drought, and the states of Texas and Florida were battered by Hurricane Harvey – which the United Nations (UN) weather agency has linked to climate change – and Irma respectively. 

Alongside metropolitan authorities, cities are also concerned about the impacts climate change will have on present water supplies, especially with a US$14 billion loss on water impacts, such as loss of production, in 2016, as according to the published report.

In addition, by 2030, the UN anticipates a 40 per cent shortage in global water supply, all while the demand for water globally will rise by 55 per cent due to increasing domestic use, electricity generation, and rising manufacturing and industrialisation.

“From our work with cities around the world, water has consistently come up as a key resiluience challenge,” Claire Bonham-Carter, Principal and City Resilience Lead at AECOM, a global infrastructure organisation and collaborator on the report, said. “Many of them, regardless of size, from Mexico City, Mexico, to Berkeley, California, are addressing both long-term water supply issues as well as chronic urban flooding.”


Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation