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Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on this site and on Twitter will start in 2021. It will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

A Mundane Comedy is Halcyon's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and across social media from the beginning of 2021. Please get in touch with any questions about the book or related Halcyon services.

Halcyon monitors change for more than 150 key elements of life.

What's Changing? - Water



Please see below recent water-related change, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal goal six (SDG 6) of ensuring clean water and sanitation by 2030.



See also:


In figures:


December 2020

  • Beijing and New Delhi have long been at loggerheads over a disputed border area in the Himalayan mountains, which led to massive skirmishes earlier this year. Now, the two Asian powers are battling it out over water. China said that it is building a hydroelectric project in one of the largest rivers in the world that it calls Yarlung Zangbo, but that the Indians call the Brahmaputra river. After Beijing announced the project, which could be Beijing's biggest hydropower project in history if it comes to pass, New Delhi said that Beijing's aggressive plans could have major implications for India's food and water security, and that it would give China too much power to use the crucial waterway as a "weapon", noted GZERO Media.
  • In the western US, water rights have always been a contentious commodity, endlessly bought, sold, reparceled, subcontracted, and grandfathered as an assortment of city officials, utility companies, ranchers and farmers, and other interested parties tussle over how to divvy up water from the Colorado River to big cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas. Now there’s a new contender: Wall Street investors. The New York Times reported on what one hedge fund manager called “the biggest emerging market on Earth.” 


September 2020


August 2020

  • Water is as important to the world’s economy as oil or data. claimed McKinsey. Though most of the planet is covered in water, more than 97 percent of it is salt water. Fresh water accounts for the rest, although most of it is frozen in glaciers, leaving less than 1 percent of the world’s water available to support human and ecological processes. Every year, we withdraw 4.3 trillion cubic meters of fresh water from the planet’s water basins. We use it in agriculture (which accounts for 70 percent of the withdrawals), industry (19 percent), and households (11 percent).


June 2020

  • Data showed that water bills in the US have risen by an average of 80 percent over the past decade. Millions of families now risk having their water and sewage service cut off – or losing their homes – if they can't pay their bills, according to new findings by the Guardian.


May 2020


March 2020

  • According to research published in Nature Geoscience, Earth may have once been engulfed by a global ocean. With few to no landmasses present, this period in our planet's history may have serious implications for how life emerged. Researchers theorized that Oxygen-18's larger presence in the archeological record may have resulted from a simple lack of continents. While Earth may have sported a few landmasses, they would have been small, few, and far between. As larger landmasses emerged, weather and other water-rock interactions would have drawn down Oxygen-18 levels to present conditions. 


December 2019

  • One-quarter of humanity faces a looming water crisis, including the prospect of running out of water: odd perhaps when 70% of the Earth’s surface is water. Yet up to 80% of available surface and groundwater is being used every year and water demand globally is projected to increase by 55% by 2050. Reasons for water stress around the world include the growing human population at the same time as the water supply has remained the same (given there are almost one billion more inhabitants on Earth every 15-20 years, this has led to a progressive deficit in the global water supply). Another reason is the uneven concentration of the global population. There is not a clear link between the presence of the population in some regions and the presence of water, in other words, water is not where we want it to be every time.
  • The world is running out of freshwater. Just 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh, and almost nowhere is its value truly reflected in its price. However investors are paying more attention to corporate water issues and businesses are beginning to respond with innovative water saving measures.


August 2019

  • report from the World Resources Institute found that countries containing one quarter of the world's population are at risk of running out of water. It also found that 33 of the world's largest cities, with a combined population of more than 250 million, face extremely high water stress, with dangerous implications for public health. Cities at greatest risk include Beijing, New Delhi, Dhaka, Riyadh, Cairo, Mexico City, and Chicago.
  • According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, more than 90% of a typical bottle of cleaning product is simply water. Drying out these cleaning and personal care products does several environmentally friendly things: it reduces their volume, thus reducing the number of boats and trucks needed to transport them; it reduces their weight, thus further reducing fuel and carbon emissions associated with shipping them and it reduces the plastic packaging by requiring a smaller container to hold the refillable concentrate, or by precluding the need for any disposable plastic at all. An estimated 20% or more of global disposable plastic packaging by weight could be replaced by reusable packaging if we only shipped active ingredients.
  • Another example is bottles of cleaning product which are typically over 90% water. That water adds weight, which means more trucks and boats are needed to ship them, and more pollution is generated while doing so. Vox pointed to an eco-friendlier way: just-add-water products. (A tablet also requires less packaging.)


March 2019

  • Of the world's 7.7 billion people, 2.1 billion still lack consistent access to safe drinking water at home, according to the latest World Water Development Report, published each year by the United Nations.


February 2019


January 2019


December 2018


November 2018


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018


July 2018

  • A plan to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to fix Cape Town’s water crisis could reportedly supply up to 30% of the South African city’s annual needs.


June 2018

  • An Indian government thinktank has warned that 600 million people in that country are at risk of extreme water scarcity and that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater in the next two years. This is not just about thirst. About 80% of India’s water is used for agriculture. Less water means lower crop yields, less food, higher food prices, and, perhaps, future political upheaval, warned GZEROMedia.

  • People shouldn’t treat water as private property, argued Quartz. Communities could be convinced to share access to groundwater if they’re presented with the facts.

  • There are two types of water, found Quartz, and they vary slightly in the electrical fields they generate.

  • Wars have been fought over it. People can’t live without it. And a growing global population is thirsty for more, claimed GZEROMedia. So, what happens if a major city runs out of water? Nearly 4 million people who live in Cape Town, South Africa, recently came close to finding out. Earlier this year, it looked like local authorities might have to ration water at gunpoint as the reservoirs that supply the city and its surrounding farmland started to run dry after three years of drought.

  • Cape Town isn’t the first big metropolis to face a water crisis in recent years. Sao Paulo, population 20 million, had a similar scare in 2015. There will be others, warned GZEROMedia, as booming urban populations meet an increase in severe weather due to climate change


March 2018


February 2018


January 2018



  • While some countries have an abundant supply of fresh water, others do not have as much. UN estimates, analysed by the World Bank suggest that many areas of the world are already experiencing stress on water availability. Due to the accelerated pace of population growth and an increase in the amount of water a single person uses, it is expected that this situation will continue to get worse. 
  • The ability of developing countries to make more water available for domestic, agricultural, industrial and environmental uses will depend on better management of water resources and more cross-sectorial planning and integration. There is now ample evidence that increased hydrologic variability and change in climate has and will continue to have a profound impact on the water sector through the hydrologic cycle, water availability, water demand, and water allocation at the global, regional, basin, and local levels. 
  • Properly managed water resources are a critical component of growth, poverty reduction and equity. The livelihoods of the poorest are critically associated with access to water services. A shortage of water in the future would be detrimental to the human population as it would affect everything from sanitation, to overall health and the production of grain. 
  • Freshwater use by continents is partly based on several socio-economic development factors, including population, physiography, and climatic characteristics. It is estimated that in the coming decades the most intensive growth of water withdrawal is expected to occur in Africa and South America (increasing by 1.5-1.6 times), while the smallest growth will take place in Europe and North America (1.2 times), 
  • A common perception is that most of the available freshwater resources are visible (on the surfaces of lakes, reservoirs and rivers). However, this visible water represents only a tiny fraction of global freshwater resources, as most of it is stored in aquifers, with the largest stocks stored in solid form in the Antarctic and in Greenland's ice cap. 
  • The oceans are in turmoil, but unfortunately most of it is out of sight and therefore out of mind. In Commodifying the Oceans, Environmental sociologist Stefano Longo explored the multiple threats to the oceans, from overfishing to coral reef collapse to ocean acidification.
  • Ocean acidification represents a serious threat to marine biodiversity. Progressive ocean acidification will also increasingly slow the growth of corals and shell-forming reef organism.
  • The average global ocean temperature is expected to rise by between one and four degrees Celsius by 2100. An increase in seawater temperature will affect the reproduction period of fish and shrimp and may result in large-scale migration of fish.
  • As global population increases and people become wealthier, agricultural production will need to likewise increase, but food systems may become more stressed because of competition for water.
  • Water is also used in everyday products at astounding rates - e.g. a single cup of coffee costs 130 litres of water, while about 18,900 litres are needed to produce 1 kg of roasted coffee.
  • According to The Ripple Effect, The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century (Alex Prud’homme, © 2011, Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.):
    • By 2025 as many as 3.4 billion people will face water scarcity.”
    • For much of history, people have fought over surface water...but today, the biggest water wars are over groundwater
    • Ageing infrastructure is a growing problem
    • Thousands of industrial spills, many left over from a less regulated time, continue to poison groundwater, leak toxins into rivers and lakes, and impact human and environmental health
    • Agricultural runoff is now the biggest single source of water pollution in some countries
    • In short, we no longer have the luxury of ignoring our impact on water supplies. We must increase our knowledge the new hydrologic reality and adapt.
  • Growing coffee and other commodities in places low in fresh water supplies is still common in parts of Africa. The result is the mass-transportation of water from the driest parts of the world to the wettest.
  • Elixir argued that we need to treat the world’s finite water supplies with deep respect and that in the long term, for all our vaunted technologies, many of the solutions and pathways to sustainability lie in making water conservation an integral part of everyone’s lives.

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