Sources and methods:
The data on water consumption in the world is provided by the United Nations (UN, UNESCO, and FAO, see list of publications below).
Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of all water consumption, compared to 20% for industry and 10% for domestic use. In industrialized nations, however, industries consume more than half of the water available for human use. Belgium, for example, uses 80% of the water available for industry.
Freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years. Demand for freshwater is increasing by 64 billion cubic meters a year (1 cubic meter = 1,000 liters)
- The world’s population is growing by roughly 80 million people each year.
- Changes in lifestyles and eating habits in recent years are requiring more water consumption per capita.
- The production of biofuels has also increased sharply in recent years, with significant impact on water demand. Between 1,000 and 4,000 litres of water are needed to produce a single litre of biofuel.
- Energy demand is also accelerating, with corresponding implications for water demand.
Almost 80% of diseases in so called "developing" countries are associated with water, causing some three million early deaths. For example, 5,000 children die every day from diarrhoea, or one every 17 seconds.
References and useful links
- AQUASTAT - by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): Information System on Water and Agriculture
- Local flow regulation and irrigation raise global human water consumption and footprint. Science (December 2015)
- Hoekstra, AY (2012). "The Water Footprint of Humanity". PNAS.
- World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) - monitors freshwater issues in order to provide recommendations, develop case studies, enhance assessment capacity at a national level and inform the decision-making process. Its primary product, the World Water Development Report (WWDR), is a periodic, comprehensive review providing an authoritative picture of the state of the world’s freshwater resources.
- UN Water - organizes the World Water Week and World Water Day
- Water Data - from The World’s Water, Pacific Institute
- Global Water Outlook to 2025: Averting an Impending Crisis, Dealing with Scarcity, Policy Responses to the Threat of Scarcity - three separate publications published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
- Toward a world of thirst ? - by GRID-Arendal, an official United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) collaborating centre - given the volume of available water, and under the present circumstances, will it be possible to provide enough water to a population forecast to be at least 9 billion by 2050 (according to the medium hypothesis proposed by the United Nations) using a volume which will be roughly the same as it is now?