02 Apr 2024 2 min read

Why are we running out of fresh water?

By Elisa Piscopiello , Shichen Zhao

The problem of water scarcity is worsening as a result of climate change and population growth. In our new whitepaper, we dive into water scarcity, and how technology could help alleviate the problem.  


As every schoolchild knows, water covers approximately 70% of Earth’s surface. Yet around half of the world’s population currently experiences severe water scarcity for at least part of the year,1 and around two billion people currently don’t have access to safe drinking water.2

As the graphic below shows, this is because despite most of the planet being covered in water, just 3% of this is fresh water, which is needed for people, animals and crops. Two-thirds of that scarce fresh water is locked up in glaciers or is otherwise unavailable for use.3


Compounding the problem, much of our accessible fresh water has become polluted. Climate change is also accelerating the frequency of extreme weather events.

Together, these factors have put intense pressure on our fresh water resources.

Pressure on the planet’s supply of clean water, exacerbated by a growing population and rising industry use, is drawing increasing public and political focus.

Along with hundreds of pledges and commitments, governments are driving investment in clean water. The European Investment Bank commits €3 billion to water infrastructure investment annually,4 and the US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has launched a €50 billion water infrastructure plan.5

The water tech market is projected to grow by 32% from 2022 to 2028, with the majority of total expenditure by technology concentrated in fluid-handling equipment such as pipes, pumps and valves.6

The above is an extract from our new whitepaper, Clean water technologies: overcoming the challenge of a drier world. Read the whitepaper to learn more about global water scarcity, and the cutting-edge technologies offering potential solutions.

1. Source: Chapter 4: Water | Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (ipcc.ch)

2. Source: Water | United Nations

3. Source: https://phys.org/news/2023-12-world-freshwater.html#google_vignette

4. Source: Water as a vital investment in our future: the EIB at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference (smartwatermagazine.com)

5. Source: FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Celebrates Historic Progress in Rebuilding America Ahead of Two-Year Anniversary of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law | The White House

6. Source: GWI, December 2023.

Elisa Piscopiello

Senior ETF Analyst

Elisa joined LGIM as ETF Analyst in June 2021. She contributes towards the development and analysis of investment strategies, whilst also supporting ETF distribution and marketing efforts. Prior to that, Elisa worked as Multi Asset Investment Support Executive at Liontrust, and as Investment Dealing Assistant at Architas. In 2016 she graduated from the University of Kent with a First Class degree in Financial Economics with Econometrics. She holds the Diploma in Investment Management (ESG) and is a CFA charterholder.

Elisa Piscopiello

Shichen Zhao

Thematic Research Analyst

Shichen is a Thematic Research Analyst in the ETF team, contributing to growing the thematic equity ETF range from an investments, research and analytics perspective. Before joining LGIM in August 2023, Shichen worked as an Equity Research Analyst at Candriam, with a focus on global emerging markets and thematic investment research. She graduated from National University of Singapore with a MSc degree in Management in 2019.

Shichen Zhao