Spotlight on: Water scarcity

Spotlight on: Water scarcity

Spotlight on: Water scarcity

Now, more than ever, the world faces a struggle to keep pace with the demand for water, with a growing population consuming more food and more energy. Explore selected PwC insights on addressing the growing threat to this critical resource.

Building bridges over troubled waters

Thomas Fuller wrote back in the 1700s, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”. As the world gears up for World Water Week, the demand for fresh, clean water is greater than ever as nations and businesses compete for this critical resource.

Availability of water on Earth

Chart showing availability of water on earth

The time of having access to free drinking water in abundant quantities is over as our Water: Challenges, drivers and solutions report demonstrates. The quantity of water on Earth has remained more or less stable for millions of years, but much of it’s inaccessible - trapped in glaciers or buried underground. Meanwhile, the quality of water continues to decline, as pollutants from agricultural and industrial activity spread. And the impact of climate change leaves parts of the globe facing flood and others drought.

As one of the 13 countries facing serious water challenges, China has decided to wage war on water scarcity. Battling rising demands for water, driven by urbanisation and industry, severe pollution and climate change, the country’s economy continues to grow. But so too does the demand for water. No surprise then, that water has moved to the top of the agenda for China’s leaders, with an ambitious project underway to build over 2,500 kilometres of canals to carry water from the wet south to the arid north.


As countries and businesses face increasing competition for water and water-saving technologies, it’s estimated that, by 2030, approximately four billion people worldwide will experience severe water stress. That’s 47% of the total population. In 10 Minutes on managing water scarcity, we look at how developing nations are looking to the private sector for help in supplying them with water through public-private partnerships (PPPs). These partnerships have the benefit of being able to secure additional capital and better manage the risks involved against a framework of wider reform across the water sector.

And, coming up later in 2014, look out for a PwC study that aims to surface examples of successful multi-stakeholder collaboration around water issues and the enabling factors which can make such partnerships successful.

As the world becomes more populous, urbanised and prosperous, demand for energy, food and water will continue to rise.

Find out more:

  • See how Singapore, with its lack of natural resources and limited land area for collecting and storing rain water, is Turning vulnerability into opportunity.
  • Find out how Water valuation can help companies maintain and enhance revenues, reduce costs, manage risks and enhance reputation.
  • Explore the long-term opportunity for public-private collaboration in building risk-resilient infrastructure in Rebuilding for resilience.