Water, the world's most precious yet undervalued resource, lies at the heart of a mounting global crisis that threatens both human and planetary health, warns a new report, published today by WWF.
Released on World Food Day, The High Cost of Cheap Water uncovers a stark reality: the annual economic value of water and freshwater ecosystems is estimated to be US$58 trillion – equivalent to 60% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP)*. But the world’s freshwater ecosystems are in a downward spiral, posing an ever growing risk to these values.
The report finds that direct economic benefits, such as water consumption for households, irrigated agriculture and industries, amount to a minimum of US$7.5 trillion annually. It also estimates that the unseen benefits - which include purifying water, enhancing soil health, storing carbon, and protecting communities from extreme floods and droughts - are seven times higher at around US$50 trillion annually.