It has been a while coming, but the threat of water shortages has shot up the corporate agenda. Multinationals are increasingly joining the ranks of academics, consultants, public officials and development experts in trying to define both the size of the problem and the range of the solutions. This is a vast undertaking, for several reasons.
First of all, water is an intractably local problem. Future water shortages, as measured globally, do not take into account how much worse it will be (or already is) for some countries and regions. A study by consultancy McKinsey, the International Finance Corporation, the commercial arm of the World Bank, and a number of multinationals, estimates there will be a 40 per cent gap between current water supply levels and water demand in 2030, assuming demand is unconstrained.