By Mathias Delori
Some water wars tomorrow?
Water is a natural resource unlike any other. Unlike oil, gas and all metals, it is non-substitutable* and vital, as the life expectancy of a person deprived of water is no more than three days. Lack of water, particularly drinking water, is therefore a very worrying prospect. But this fear is not abstract. Cape Town, a metropolis in South Africa, came very close to not being able to supply water to its entire population in 2018. This dramatic scenario is not the result of global water scarcity – water is a renewable resource* – but of its unequal distribution. The average volume of water available per inhabitant varies from 160 cubic metres in Yemen to 500,000 in Iceland. What’s more, access to water is highly unequal: Brazil, for example, has 20% of the world’s freshwater flowing through its territory, but 20% of its population has no access to drinking water. Water is also an essential resource for agriculture and power generation.
Paris: La Découverte (in Ecologies. Le Vivant Et Le Social, edited by Philippe Boursier and Clémence Guimont), 2023