The world is entering a period of growing water scarcity. We estimate that by 2030, global demand for water
could outstrip supply by over 40% if no changes are made.
The growing demands placed on our supply of water are not merely the result of the world’s growing population, but the way in which our economies develop. Since 1900, our consumption of water for human use has grown at twice the level of population growth, jumping from 600 billion cubic meters in
1900 to 4,500 billion cubic meters in 2010.
In this report, we develop these concepts further. We follow on closely from the first report in emphasising
’decoupling’ as the prism through which future water management should be considered. The first Resource Panel report on decoupling (UNEP, 2011a) used the term decoupling to denote a reduction in the amount of resources used or environmental impacts caused per unit of economic output.
This second report aims to provide a more detailed account of how a decoupling policy can be measured. While we cannot provide specific practical tools for water administration, we do aim to introduce and discuss the analytical methods and policy frameworks needed to ensure that water use can be properly quantified over the life cycle and integrated into other measures within the green economy.