In 2020, as the world began confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most important measures to prevent infection—the simple act of washing one’s hands—highlighted another global crisis: water scarcity.
In many places, water is often polluted, unsustainably managed, or unevenly distributed, and climate change is altering its availability even further. A quarter of the global population lives in countries experiencing high water stress, and more than 2 billion lack access to safely managed drinking-water services. Although getting water to those in need is crucial, nearly 9 trillion gallons are lost each year due to prolonged leaks and pipe breaks.
Improvements to the global water supply system—the infrastructure that collects, treats, stores, and distributes water to consumers—must be holistically addressed and will require a $1.9 trillion global investment by 2030. Technology will play a critical role in this effort.