The Water Stress Index calculates the water stress of over 168 countries by evaluating renewable supplies of water from precipitation, streams and rivers against domestic, industrial and agricultural use.
The arid Middle East and North Africa region is the most at-risk region in the index, with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, Djibouti, UAE, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Egypt categorized as the 10 most water-stressed countries, listed in order of risk.
However, the widespread use of irrigation for agriculture, combined with increasing domestic and industrial water demand in India (ranked 34th in the index), China (50) and the US (61) means that those economies’ water resources are coming under increasing pressure – and this may place more of an impact on the wider world, Maplecroft says.
The populous northeast Chinese provinces of Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandong and Tianjin are all considered “extreme risk” by the Water Stress Index, due to large-scale economic growth and the rapid expansion of cities.
Agriculture is a key driver of unsustainable water use in India. The country is classified as “high risk” overall, but at a subnational level the index identified “extreme” levels of water stress across large swathes of its most important agricultural land. States that are at “extreme risk” of water stress include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, while Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are rated at “high risk.”
Although the USA is classified by Maplecroft as “medium risk” for water stress overall, large areas are already suffering from the depletion of ground water supplies, with states including Arizona, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas classified as being at “high” and “extreme risk.”
The effects of water stress on global food inflation are illustrated by recent price hikes for soya beans, which have been pushing all-time highs, the study says.
An April 2012 study released by Maplecroft ranked GE, Alcoa, Johnson Controls, Ford and Intel as the leaders in innovation of clean-tech solutions and products, mitigation of climate change-related risks and management of carbon emissions. The Maplecroft Climate Innovation Indexes studied 360 large, multinational US companies and how they adapt to climate-change issues.