In 2015, the Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum had Water Crises as the highest impact issue in its Global Risks Landscape. Above Terrorist Attacks, Critical Information Infrastructure Breakdown, Fiscal Crises, etc.
This year, the 2016 Global Risks Report puts Failure of Climate-Change Mitigation and Adaptation ahead in terms of impact. New in at number 1 in terms of likelihood is Large-Scale Involuntary Migration. Surely this isn’t a risk but a reality? Where was it last year? No one thought it a risk? It doesn’t feature at all. This suggests that risks often go unidentified until they’re realities.
Water Crises is one of the more interconnected risks. Its causes are mostly climate and environment related. The impact of Water Crises includes: Food Crises, Spread of Infectious Disease, Profound Social Instability, Large-Scale Involuntary Migration, State Collapse, Interstate Conflict.
It seems odd that population growth to unsustainable levels isn’t also a risk – we routinely include it in i2O’s list of challenges faced by water utilities. It’s covered partly by Failure of Urban Planning and Failure of National Governance, and related at least to Urbanisation which is identified as a trend.
Geographically, Water Crises makes the top 3 risks for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. With major clients in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia i2O can attest to the urgency of the challenges in those territories.
Large-Scale Involuntary Migration didn’t even feature as a risk 1 year ago. 2015 was a year in which the International Organisation for Migration estimated that more than a million people reached Europe through irregular means, with 2.2 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey alone, 1.1 million in Lebanon, and 633,000 in Jordan.
Water Crises is a risk with significant impact right around the world and it’s not clear that enough Governments in enough locations are taking that seriously enough and doing enough about it. They should. Before it becomes a reality.