First off, this report came out in February 2012. So in other words, it is not breaking news, at least not time-wise. But I think that it is breaking news when you consider that it outlines what the U.S. intelligence community thinks about global water issues. It’s also interesting to note that you have to do a little digging to actually find a link to the full report. This link should take you right to the PDF. There’s also a press release that can be found here, that summarizes the report fairly well:
During the next 10 years, many regions will experience water challenges – shortages, poor water quality, or floods – that will increase the risk of instability and state failure, increase regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States on important U.S. policy objectives. Between now and 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demand absent more effective management of water resources. Water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate energy, posing a risk to global food markets and hobbling economic growth. As a result of demographic and economic development pressures, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia will face major challenges coping with water problems.
Is anyone else a little overwhelmed after reading just that short synopsis? Forewarned is forearmed though, so I think it’s better for us to enter the next few decades aware of the global water security challenges we face. And yes, the report is primarily concerned with how these issues will impact U.S. policies, not necessarily the issues themselves, but that’s what it is.
Also of interest is the fact that the primary response to the report, as far as I can tell, was the establishment of the U.S. Water Partnership:
Announced in March 2012 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) unites and mobilizes U.S. expertise, resources and ingenuity to address water challenges around the globe, particularly in the developing world. A joint effort of both public and private sectors in the U.S., the partnership is supported by government agencies, academic organizations, water coalitions, NGOs and the private sector.
They’ve been a little slow getting off the ground, but promise the development of a web portal, reference service and information platform in 2013 that will synthesize a wealth of U.S. data and expertise. If this platform is actually published, it will be a valuable tool for those working on improving global water security. I’ll be sure to keep you informed if there are any updates.