Water plays an important role in underpinning equitable, stable and productive societies and ecosystems. Hence, United Nations recognized ensuring water security as one (Goal 6) of the seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs). Many international river basins are likely to experience 'low water security' over the coming decades. Water security is rooted not only in the physical availability of freshwater resources relative to water demand, but also on social and economic factors (e.g. sound water planning and management approaches, institutional capacity to provide water services, sustainable economic policies). Until recently, advanced tools and methods are available for the assessment of water scarcity. However, quantitative and integrated - physical and socio-economic - approaches for spatial analysis of water security at global level are not available yet. In this study, we present a spatial multi-criteria analysis framework to provide a global assessment of water security. The selected indicators are based on Goal 6 of SDGs. The term 'security' is conceptualized as a function of 'availability', 'accessibility to services', 'safety and quality', and 'management'. The proposed global water security index (GWSI) is calculated by aggregating indicator values on a pixel-by-pixel basis, using the ordered weighted average method, which allows for the exploration of the sensitivity of final maps to different attitudes of hypothetical policy makers. Our assessment suggests that countries of Africa, South Asia and Middle East experience very low water security. Other areas of high water scarcity, such as some parts of United States, Australia and Southern Europe, show better GWSI values, due to good performance of management, safety and quality, and accessibility. The GWSI maps show the areas of the world in which integrated strategies are needed to achieve water related targets of the SDGs particularly in the African and Asian continents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment