Water management has in recent years become one the main topics of debates in what concerns global sustainability. Water is a necessary resource for our well being, our very survival well as for the preservation of ecosystems.

water stream

 With the globalization of the economy the use of water has increased drastically during the past ten years due to the increase in economic activities. This is putting at risks the function of our ecosystems .

In our collective mind we imagine water to be an unlimited resource. Although there is plenty of water around the globe, only 2,5% is actually freshwater of which around 70% is made up of ice in the artic regions and mountain snow, while 0,3 is found on the surface (lake and rivers) therefore only a small amount is really usable for human activity. Around 1% of freshwater is potentially usable by humans. Human activity is responsible for about 55% of all accessible freshwater of which around 70% is used in agriculture irrigation. Besides agriculture water also used in industry in many phases of its processes and with the increase of economic activities around the globe the use water has grown to a critical point.

Water management policies up to have focused towards an increase in supply this has been done by building new wells, dams, water desalination and other infrastructures to divert water. We have now reached a point, where provision cannot be increased any longer, it is necessary to readjust and manage the demand of water by reducing its consumption.

New policies especially in agriculture need to find new ways to enforce sustainable water management practices. Companies and policy makers need to be more aware of their role by taking individual responsibility and start to be part of the solution by paying more attention and finding solutions in their water footprint.

 Water for agricultural irrigation comes from two main sources: superficial water (rivers, dams)which is physically diverted to fields and secondly from groundwater that comes from rainwater. This is available as long as demand does not exceed supply. One of the main consequences of lack of a sustainable water management policy has been the loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution, deterioration of soils etc . Ecosystems are subjected to continuous stress by human activity. We have taken for granted the idea that our biodiversity was able to regulate itself or in most cases ignored it.

Freshwater ecosystems account for 1% of the earth and make up 7% of all species. The biodiversity in freshwater systems has an extinction rate which is 5 times that found in terrestrial species (Ricciardi and Ramsussen, 1999) in Europe 60% of wet areas has been lost due to economic exploitation, and since the 1900 the world has lost around 50% of its wetlands (IUCN, 2009) According to FAO by 2025 70% of the population will suffer from severe water scarcity stress. Lack of water and growing population could lead to food scarcity in the near future as ground water is rapidly shrinking.

Companies that integrate sustainable water management in their strategy will limit the risks that may develop due to water scarcity which on the long run could mean increased costs. Understanding the value of water will, in the long run be able to increase their competitive advantage.