World Economic Forum: Innovation can transform the way we solve the world’s water challenges

World Economic Forum: Innovation can transform the way we solve the world’s water challenges

From an environmental and social impact perspective, this year has given the world much to worry about. On track to be the fourth hottest year on record, many countries have grappled with debilitating heat waves, including Japan, where an estimated 80 people died as a result of soaring temperatures.

These abnormally high temperatures combined with a lack of rainfall have contributed to unprecedented wildfires, which have ravaged much of Europe, the western states of the US and even the Arctic. Earlier in the year, unusually severe monsoons in South Asia crippled parts of Bangladesh and jeopardized the lives of thousands of refugees; while rare tropical storms descended upon much of East Africa.

These extreme weather events underscore the findings of the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Risks Report, which identified global risks with the highest likelihood and impact over the coming decade. Of these identified risks all but one can be linked to water.

For the past seven years, while other risks have, for the time being, emerged and disappeared – including the financial crisis, and chronic diseases – water has stubbornly remained. The question is why? Are stakeholders trying to solve water quantity and quality risks with the same old toolkit? The challenges to “solving water” are well known and progress has been made. However, enduring solutions continue to elude the best and brightest decision-makers in the world.

We maintain that technical advancements and new capabilities emerging from the Fourth Industrial Revolution will fundamentally disrupt the status quo and spark new ways of solving global water challenges. Findings from other sectors are encouraging.

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