Water: Protecting this scarce resource


Did you know that less than 1% of the world's water supply is suitable for personal, agricultural and industrial use? With population growth and global economic development, more people are using more water.

Unfortunately, water is often wasted, polluted or managed like there's an endless supply. Water scarcity is a reality that's exacerbated by environmental factors1, including:

  • Climate change resulting from rising temperatures
  • An increase in the number of extreme weather events such as drought
  • Changes in the amount of rainfall

The serious socioeconomic impact of water stress

Water stress occurs when a region doesn't have enough water. When this happens, people are more susceptible to health problems, poverty, lower attendance in schools and conflict. It's estimated that women in Sub-Saharan Africa spend about 40 billion hours a year fetching water at the expense of their education2.

In Ghana, girls' school attendance has risen by up to 12% because water collection time is down 15 minutes2.

When it comes to economic growth, a shortage of safe drinking water can be very harmful to businesses and result in financial losses if they have to interrupt production or pay higher supply costs.

With the number of regions without access to water expected to grow, more people will be on the move. By 2030, more than 700 million people around the world could be displaced by intense water scarcity3.

Everyone is at risk

Even Canada isn't immune to water shortages. The southern Prairies, known as the country's breadbasket, are very vulnerable to global warming because it could worsen the existing drought problems. Alberta may even lose one of its main sources of water, Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park in the Rocky Mountains, because of melting glaciers.

The climate moisture index measures the difference between annual precipitation and the potential loss of water vapour from a landscape covered by vegetation. This projection is for the years 2071-2100, assuming the world continues to increase greenhouse gas emissions4.

Protecting water with Desjardins Sustainable solutions

Fortunately, a number of companies are concerned about water scarcity and tackling it head on. They're committed to helping preserve and manage water in a responsible, sustainable and profitable way.

The portfolio managers responsible for the Desjardins Sustainable Funds have included many of these companies in their portfolios. In addition to their financial strength, these companies offer solutions, including:

  • Process efficiency: Consuming less water per unit produced, tracking water usage more effectively and adopting products that require less water
  • Water infrastructure: Building and maintaining a wider network that weathers climate change to limit losses
  • Water treatment and sanitation: Developing filters, sterilizers and various techniques for purifying water, and building and managing treatment plants
  • Alternative water sources:Using seawater desalination systems, rainwater harvesting systems or water recycling

The companies the Fund invests in5

Contact your regional sales director to learn more about our responsible investment (RI) products and tools and find out how you can leverage them to grow your business.

This information should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell the securities, products or services referred to or as the sole basis for an investment decision.

  1. Desjardins. 2020 Annual Report on Responsible Investment : Desjardins Funds, October 26, 2020. [cited June 23, 2021].
  2. Unesco, 2015, Gender and Water Data : Project for gender sensitive water monitoring, assessment and reporting, World Water Assessment Programme. November 4, 2015. [cited June 23, 2021].
  3. Unicef. "Water scarcity : Addressing the growing lack of available water to meet children's needs." 2020. [cited June 23, 2021].
  4. CBC. "Here are the places in Canada — yes, Canada — vulnerable to drought." Updated July 27, 2018. [cited June 23, 2021].
  5. The companies are in the portfolio as at December 31, 2022.

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