Study: Companies Join Cities To Face Water Challenges

Photograph: Jasper van der Meij


The world watched as Houston’s flooding crisis as a result of Hurricane Harvey claimed the lives of at least 30 people in Texas earlier this week, in yet another wake up call from nature about how serious global warming is and how our water supply and safety is affected by it. On August 29, CDP released research about the availability of projects worth $9.5 billion addressing water challenges and water security following climate change and urban population pressure.

CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is a “global disclosure system that enables companies, cities, states and regions to measure and manage their environmental impacts,” that has built a collection of self-reported environmental data from around the world, according to their website.

CDP’s research, ‘Who’s tackling urban water challenges,’ covers 569 cities and 1,432 companies, and reveals that 84 percent of Asia and Oceania are most concerned about their water supply, while 80 percent of African cities and 75 percent of Latin American cities face serious risks. 63 percent of North American cities hold climate change responsible for risks to water supply, with 34 percent of European cities concerned. From a total of 569 cities, 196 reported risks of water stress and scarcity, 132 reported risks of declining water quality and 103 reported risks of flooding.

“We are seeing critical shifts in leadership from cities and companies in response to the very real threat of flooding, for example, to local economies,” says Morgan Gillespy, Head of CDP’s Water Program. “Combined with innovation and financial capital, this puts the tipping point for a sustainable economy in reach, and this data shows how important investors are in making this happen.”

Only last year, companies reported losses worth $14 billion as a result of water challenges. This year, 62 percent of cities covered in CDP’s research are working with companies to address water challenges influenced by climate change. A total of 80 cities seek $9.5 billion for 89 water management projects; $6.7 billion goes to water investment opportunities in Latin American cities, where Quito, Ecuador, for example is looking for $800 million to manage its water supply. The city aims to build three hydropower stations and address the contamination of 246 kilometers (152.85 miles) of Quito’s rivers and streams. In the meantime, North American cities seek $2.7 billion, while those in Asia and Oceania are looking for $27.4 million. Coming last, European and African cities are looking to pump $22.3 million $6.19 million, respectively, into water projects.

In December 2015, Chennai, India, was flooded with 490 millimeter (19.3 inches) of rain, the worst rain storms in the last 100 years. The flood started in November 8 and lasted until December 14, killing more than 500 in a city that shelters around 7 million, displacing more than 1.8 million, and leaving millions without clean water. Business operations were also severely disrupted and property damage and losses were estimated to range between $3 billion and $16 billion. Two years later, Chennai is investing in its resiliency with water conservation education, building a storm water management system and additional infrastructure.

Here’s the study: cities-and-water-infographic-2017