Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050: Linking global assessments to policy dimensions

Wada, Y. ORCID: (2015). Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050: Linking global assessments to policy dimensions. In: Systems Analysis 2015 - A Conference in Celebration of Howard Raiffa, 11 -13 November, 2015, Laxenburg, Austria.

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Project: Water futures and solutions initiative (WFaS)


Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, USA, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and US federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016.

Irrigation techniques, industrial, and residential habits, combined with climate change, lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in over next 35 years.

We identify strategies in six key areas that we believe can be combined in different ways in different parts of the world in order to effectively reduce water stress. Water stress occurs in an area where more than 40% of the water from rivers is unavailable because it is already being used – a situation that currently affects about a third of the global population, and may affect as many as half the people in the world by the end of the century if the current pattern of water use continues).

We separate six key strategy areas for reducing water stress into “hard path” measures, involving building more reservoirs and increasing desalination efforts of sea water, and “soft path” measures that focus on reducing water demand rather than increasing water supply, thanks to community-scale efforts and decision-making, combining efficient technology and environmental protection. While there are some economic, cultural, and social factors that may make certain soft-path measures difficult (such as population control), soft-path measures offer the more realistic path forward in terms of reducing water stress by 2050.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2016 10:16
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:26

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