Aqueduct: Mapping the World’s Water Threats


The World Resources Institute (WRI) recently released an ambitiously detailed map of the global community’s most pressing water issues. The project, entitled Aqueduct, came into being as the result of an alliance among various major corporations including Shell, General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Proctor and Gamble. “We’re seeing that water and the lack of it is emerging as one of the defining challenges of the 21st century,” says Betsy Otto, Director of the Aqueduct project for WRI, “What’s interesting now is that we’re hearing that concern echoed in the business community and across the world.”

Currently, Aqueduct is the most detailed (not to mention free) map available in terms of assessing global water risks. Using the most recent data available worldwide (from the year 2010), it is the first to include comprehensive groundwater data in addition to multiple filters to view information on flood and drought intensity and occurrences, migration of pollutants, the need for water treatment centers by geographical location and more. In addition, the nine standard filters that are built into the Aqueduct program are each able to be weighted in terms of various industrial sectors and their impact on, or need for, water resources.

The value of an open source tool such as this is immense to the international public, private and non-profit sectors. All of them can now access up to date and specific water-related information and track the progress of the associated environmental, social and political risks. Betsy Otto recently remarked to the press that”…There’s a dearth of good information globally about where we stand with water challenges, and we’re only going to be able to solve water problems if we bring the public and private sector together.”