DWS and WWF research highlights why we can no longer afford to neglect water risk

DWS has teamed up with WWF, the largest independent conservation organization in the world, to publish an op-ed highlighting the importance of underpinning investments with a clearer approach to water risk and opportunities. The research comes in light of the Global Risk Report, which is published every year by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

DWS and WWF agree that we need a holistic approach to address water risks, which requires strong and ambitious policies from governments, supervisors and regulators to create economic incentives for funding investments that have a transformational impact. This is important if we want to scale up funding and harness the rising tide of ESG interest in general.

According to WWF and Francesco Curto, DWS Head of Research, there are many reasons:

  • Potential catastrophic impacts on societies and economies: today, 785 million people lack a basic water-drinking source and two billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Poor sanitation and hygiene led to almost 1.6 million deaths in 2017. In addition, if the world’s rivers, lakes and wetlands continue to be degraded and unsustainable pressures put on global water resources then, it is estimated that by 2050, 52% of the world’s population, 45% of global GDP and 40% of global grain production will be in areas facing high water stress
  • Without addressing water risk, we increase future pandemic risks: failure to act on the climate and nature crises also exacerbates water crises, which will hasten habitat destruction and reduce resilience, thus increasing future pandemic risk.
  • We are very unprepared for potential water crises: despite the WEF ranking ‘water risk’ in its Global Risk Report by impact between 2012 and 2020 amid its top 5 risks and features in many of the top risks in 2021 by both likelihood and impact, we have seen much less action than for the climate crisis. To put this into context, the WEF has continuously flagged infectious diseases and pandemics in its annual risk report – yet with the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, most of the world was totally unprepared. This underlines why identifying a risk is not enough, and what matters more is preparation and management.

    More information can be found here:



    For further information please contact:

    Adib Sisani
    +49 69 / 910 61960

    Claus Gruber
    +49 69 / 910 14381

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