Thirty-Three Countries Face Water Stress by 2040: Report

By Pat Ware

Aug. 26 — From a ranking of 167 countries, 33 face “extremely high water stress” by 2040, which could threaten their economic growth, according to a World Resources Institute report released Aug. 26.

Of these 33 countries, 14 are in the Middle East, with Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar topping the list, according to the report, “Aqueduct Projected Water Stress Country Rankings,” which said it offers the first such ranking of countries and projected water stress.

“The region, already arguably the least water-secure in the world, draws heavily upon groundwater and desalinated sea water, and faces exceptional water-related challenges for the foreseeable future,” said an Aug. 26 blog post by World Resources Institute staff members analyzing the report.

The information in the report is important for investors, policymakers, companies and development organizations, which can use it to quantify future impact, hedge risks and adapt to changes, according to WRI.

In addition to projected water scarcity in the Middle East, Chile, Estonia, Namibia and Botswana could face an especially significant increase in water stress by 2040, according to the blog post, written by Andrew Maddocks, Robert Samuel Young and Paul Reig.

“This means that businesses, farms and communities in these countries in particular may be more vulnerable to scarcity than they are today,” they said.

Availability of water will be driven in part by climate change, which will make come areas drier and others wetter, they added.

Future Generations

Water stress is defined as the ratio between total water withdrawals and available renewable water at a subcatchment level.

The institute is a global research organization with offices in the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and other countries, with a goal of moving “human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations,” WRI said on its Web page.

Global superpowers such as the U.S., China and India will likely not face the water stresses that the Middle East will by 2040, but specific areas of each country, such as the southwestern U.S. and China’s Ningxia province, could see water stress increase by 40 percent to 70 percent, the report found.

WRI called on governments to bring forward strong national climate action plans and to “support a strong international climate agreement” at the upcoming United Nations climate change conference in Paris late this year. “Governments must also respond with management and conservation practices that will help protect essential sustainable water resources for years to come,” it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Ware in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

The World Resources Institute study, “Aqueduct Projected Water Stress Country Rankings,” is available at

The related WRI blog post is available at