Global water scarcity: will there be enough water in the future?

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The Water Scarcity Atlas is a tool which has been developed to help users make sustainable choices about their water consumption, to limit global water scarcity in the future.

According to Aalto university, the average person in Europe uses 3000−5000 litres of water per day and the threat of global water scarcity is becoming increasingly worrying as global populations grow and climate change causes drought in the global South and North. Research on how we can consume water sustainably are therefore essential.

Enabling sustainable choices

The global Water Scarcity Atlas allows the user to view scenarios for global water scarcity based on factors should as changes in diet and food losses to see how this affects global water resources.

Dr Joseph Guillaume, the creator of the web application and postdoctoral researcher, said: “Choices that consumers make here in the North have an effect on the other side of the world. Understanding water scarcity and the impact of your actions is the first step to shaping the future. We wanted to create a capacity building tool so that people can better understand what makes their choices sustainable or not.”

How can we reduce global water scarcity?

Discussing the applications of the atlas for global water scarcity, Guillaume commented: “As water use increases, it becomes more difficult to access the resource sustainably. Eating less meat and avoiding food waste can reduce water use. We need to support initiatives by governments, NGOs, and companies with water stewardship programmes. It’s hard to strike a balance between environmental and human needs, especially when there isn’t enough water to go around. We can work together to help farmers and other water users adopt new techniques, and establish effective management arrangements.”

Contributing to the global Water Scarcity Atlas

Guillaume added: “We encourage researchers to contribute their own work to the Atlas. Most of the data exists in scattered journal articles. Our platform really allows anyone interested in global water scarcity to stay up to date on the latest research – in an accessible way.”

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