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Our Insights 8 Aug 2011

On Our Radar: Rethinking a Drier Future

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf

This spring, China’s south suffered the worst drought in 50 years, exacerbating the country’s status as one of the most water-scarce in the world. While the severity of the drought has resulted in unprecedented shocks to the energy and agriculture sectors (to name just a couple), China’s not alone in facing a paradigm shift in how it must manage its water. In fact, it’s joining a club of countries that are rethinking and recasting water governance and management.

  • In the U.S., counties use a practice called water banking, which recharges aquifers with water during times of plenty to make water available during drier times.

For its part, China is combining a willingness to try new and innovative solutions (like piloting its own water rights trading program and centralizing water governance in the Yellow River basin) with a more tried-and-true approach of massive infrastructure spend (it has committed 500 billion to 600 billion yuan for the construction of water treatment facilities between 2011 to 2015) to serve the myriad needs of its user base. The growing importance of water security will bring more of these examples to light, requiring ingenuity – in the form of water policy, infrastructure and business models – in steady supply.


For more than two decades companies have valued our ability to serve as their early warning system, to interpret what is happening in the world today and how it may impact their business tomorrow.

Our “Radar” services range from the general – monthly cross-industry trending digests – to the bespoke – tailored analysis of the most critical emerging issues to your business, and recommendations on how to tackle them.

This is the sixth in a series of blogs giving a glimpse of what’s on our radar. If your company could benefit from an early warning system, to identify key threats and opportunities as you navigate the rapidly evolving sustainability landscape, please contact us.



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