Water lies at the heart of everything that is important for human life. Clean, thriving water bodies are an integral part of the natural environment, giving life to plants, animals and people. Water is also integral to the economy. Businesses use it to grow food, for industrial processes and for energy production. And their customers use it in conjunction with many of the goods and services they purchase.
Water is a renewable resource, but it is not inexhaustible: and although over 70% of the surface of the Earth is covered by water, less than 0.007% is easily accessible freshwater. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost.
Protecting the health of our rivers and lakes, maintaining our water infrastructure and managing our water resources effectively, while keeping water affordable are among the most critical of the challenges we face if we are to flourish now and in the longer term.
In addition to ensuring we have the right quantity and quality of water now and in the future, we also need to build resilience to climate change and the risks that we will increasingly face through periods of too little water, and too much.