Global water scarcity: H2O no!

Can just 1% of annual global GDP solve the freshwater crisis? We discuss the challenges and potential solutions.

Headshot of Vanessa Cook

Vanessa Cook

November 2023

Key takeaways

  • Some 75% of our planet is covered with water, but less than 1% is usable, and even this is depleting quickly. Why? Water demand is up approximately 40% over the past 40 years and is estimated to increase another 25% by 2050, yet supply has more than halved since 1970.
  • As a result, around half of the world's population already endures extremely high water stress at least one month of the year, and at the current rate, we could run out of freshwater as soon as 2040. Additionally, as water scarcity worsens, $70 trillion of global GDP (31%) could be exposed to high water stress by 2050, up from $15 trillion (24%) in 2010.
  • But did you know that every dollar invested in water access and sanitation could potentially generate ~$7 in returns? The good news is, it would cost only 1% of GDP annually until 2030 to solve the global water crisis and BofA Global Research identifies $200 billion in potential solutions.

Read our full analysis for a more in-depth look at these trends.