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Water: Global Trade Challenge

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Water is a precious resource. Our survival depends on it. This is a good we should take care of more and more.

Nowadays, its value has increased in such an incredible way. The business behind it involves a large number of countries, many that complain about a scarcity of it, highlighting the necessity of regulation in the global trade in order to keep high standards of quality and distribution.

According to the World Trade Report 2010 on “Trade in Natural Resources: Challenges in Global Governance” we cannot shift the concept of global water market from the concept of “virtual water.” The way countries are affected by scarcity can benefit from global trade in order to supply water to their inhabitants.

In other words, these countries rely on the import of water as well as on the import of other goods and products.

Many countries such as Mexico, the Middle East and Mediterranean countries are willing to import virtual water through water-intensive products in order to avoid pressure on local resources.

The major exporters of virtual water are USA, China and India and the major gross virtual water importers are USA, Japan, Germany, China, Italy, Mexico, according to the Water Footprint Network.

Unfortunately, issues like pollution and scarcity of water, affect the trade of goods in the world more than ever. Indeed, as the 2010 World Trade Report 2010 assumed, scarcity of water enhances the import of water intensive products, since water-scarce countries cannot produce it by themselves. Furthermore, an uncontrolled trade of water enhances scarcity in countries where its presence is abundant. This scenario is due to the under-priced water and its influence on patterns of market with serious consequence on sustainable distribution.

According to the National Geographic Freshwater Crisis website, “Freshwater makes up a very small fraction of all water on the planet. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people.”

Since distribution of water is a main topic the International community is concerned about, also the quality of water provided to society become a real concern for everybody.

The Project Brief on Water Quality, UN-Water, 2011 assumed that water quality has changed with the passing of time because of human activities and natural processes. Because of this, the impact on its own composition is huge. Obviously, the main causes of these alterations are pollution due to industrial and agricultural activities, the inadequate treatment of wastes by industries and persons, the unregulated way to discharge residues and wrong agricultural practices.

All together these factors impact the usage of the water, reducing the quantity of drinking water. In the meantime the usage of low-quality water impacts on the quality of products coming from camps irrigated by this water.

Although the scenario looks dramatic, the Project Brief on Water Quality, UN-Water 2011 provides the strategy to combat water quality problem, in order to solve the problem of pollution.

This reports that all the countries could support a more sustainable water trade, globally.

It is expected that the countries adopt the following steps to improve and guarantee the high standards of security in managing water:

  • Prevention of pollution;
  • Treatment of polluted water;
  • Safe use of wastewater;
  • Restoration and protection of ecosystem;

Countries should be willing to promote this different approach and focus on long-lasting goals to create a sustainable development.

Indeed, prevention represents the first meaningful step in order to combat the huge risks of contaminations. In the meantime, a responsible treatment of polluted water allows users to accomplish the goal through a biological and ecological approach: useful tools are available in the market in order to get the best management ever.

“Safe use of wastewater” refers to the idea to treat water in the environmentally friendly way to make it safe and use it again. Of course, just the right protection of the environment at all could preserve water from alterations.

Local and global governments need to promote new policies and take care of water starting with prevention.

Little steps towards this direction could solve the problem of wrong water management and adopting a sustainable approach could lead to great results in terms of healthcare.

THIS STORY WAS COMPILED BY STUDENTS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND MEDIA FROM MILAN, ITALY.


Cristina Raniolo Christina graduated in International Relations and Politics, in Catania (Italy). She is very interested in issues such as sustainable development and multicultural environment. She is getting a Master's Degree in Communication for International Relations, in Milan at IULM University of Language and Communication.Cristina Raniolo
Christina graduated in International Relations and Politics, in Catania (Italy). She is very interested in issues such as sustainable development and multicultural environment. She is getting a Master’s Degree in Communication for International Relations, in Milan at IULM University of Language and Communication.


Edoardo Carra Edoardo graduated in Languages and Cultures for Tourism and has Master's Degree in Foreign Languages for International Communication. He chose MICRI because he is interested in cultures and international relations. He wants to work in public affairs.Edoardo Carra
Edoardo graduated in Languages and Cultures for Tourism and has Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages for International Communication. He chose MICRI because he is interested in cultures and international relations. He wants to work in public affairs.


Noemi Lezzi Noemi graduated in Science of Communication. She chose this Master Program because she wants to protect the environment and make the world a better place.Noemi Lezzi
Noemi graduated in Science of Communication. She chose this Master Program because she wants to protect the environment and make the world a better place.

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