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18th May 2023

Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink   

Isobel Nield

When water is the most vital source of life available on our planet,  why do we pay such little attention to it here in the UK? Whether it’s the constant rainy days, gloomy weather, or the drinkable water on tap, we Englishmen are seemingly unconcerned with the worlds water shortage. But with 2022 Climate Change Strategy, written by the UK Export Finance Office, refusing to address the problem of water despite us seeing the driest July on record, the worlds water shortage could soon be coming to the UK.  

What is the UK Government’s Climate Change Strategy?  

The UK Governments Climate Change Strategy outlines its roadmap to address the country’s biggest climate problems by 2024. The plan includes solutions for an increase in investment for renewable energy sources, as well as briefly touching on a larger focus on marine energy in order to boost the UK’s energy output without the need for oil and gas. But unfortunately, it doesn’t make any mention of addressing the predicted oncoming water shortage. Presenting a tunnel-like vision of the environmental issues currently facing the world by only focusing on a select number of renewable sources, it has seemingly forgotten about the water drought currently causing big economic and social stress on the world stage.    

Due to this lack of acknowledgement, there is also likely to be a drop in government funding available to those who want to tackle the water shortage head on. But when it rains a total of 133 days annually in the UK, why does this matter?   

What’s the problem with water?   

Due to last summer’s lack of rainfall, our country’s total reservoir stocks are 48% lower than their full capacity which presents a problem.   

As the country’s water supply dips well below satisfactory levels, experts now estimate that hosepipe bans and limits on non-essential water use could come into place this year, with many water companies already preparing measures to put them into place. While this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced drought in the UK, the summer of 1975 was notably worse, the state that we’re in speaks to something much deeper than ‘just another drought’.   

Experts predict that this frequency will only increase in the oncoming years as a direct result of climate change, suggesting that while the current drought isn’t the country’s biggest climate threat, it very well could be in the next 10 years.  

In fact, the United Nations estimate that 3.9 billion people, that’s more than 40% of the world’s population, will live in severely water-stressed regions by 2050.  

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive and NDG at The Environment Agency said: “Our lives, livelihoods, and nature all depend on one thing – water. Climate change and population growth mean we need to take action now to ensure we have enough over the coming decades to manage everyday supplies and more intense drought events.” All starting to feel a bit like a pathetic fallacy of doom and gloom? Let’s talk about how we can fix it.   


Let’s wade into the world of GreenTech

When we look at the current world stage, many players are making significant changes to the way they deal with water. From Chile changing its privatisation legislation during a megadrought, to Sudan campaigning for increased industry knowledge to more efficiently invest in drought management, many countries are making innovative steps in their approach to handling water. But across all instances, one thing is clear; to make significant changes to our environmental commitment to water, Government and industry professionals must work together.   

In fact, there is already a tech sector dedicated to this kind of work. Enter to the stage… GreenTech! 

GreenTech refers to any technology that aims to solve an environmental issue or look to prevent issues from arising in the first instance. Due to the worlds water shortage, many of these start-ups are looking to change the way we access water. For example, the BlueTech Alliance’s Solar Powered Atmospheric Water Towers  can produce 10,000 litres of water per day completely independent of the use of ground water and fossil fuels. While the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Omni Processor converts faecal waste from pit latrines into safe drinking water and electricity.   

Unfortunately, many of these start-ups based in the EU and UK are facing funding issues due a lack of perceived need. Like the UK Government, many investors do not view the worlds water shortage as a western issue despite experts saying otherwise. And even if it’s not issue where we are located, sustainability must take a holistic approach to support all counties globally. 

Next Steps into The World of Water  

 A reinvention of how we approach the worlds water shortage is desperately needed to show the long term effects within individual countries. Thankfully, emerging GreenTech advancements in monitoring devices mean that we can better measure our water levels and create more accurate predictions than what are currently in place. Giving us a better chance of demonstrating the droughts effects and therefore a better shot at gaining investment for innovative solutions. To do this, however, the UK must embrace a more integrated approach to water.  

But fixing our water issue doesn’t just have to be about our drought, it should also be a catalyst for international change. Too often we think of our environmental threats as singular to our own countries, when in fact events are tangled in bigger world cases. A wider conversation around international drought solutions could be a game-changer, propelling the water world water crisis into a more positive environment.

See our latest whitepaper  

To read more about how we’re pioneering market disrupting innovations, read our free report ‘Entering the GreenTech Era’ here