Currently some 2.5–3.0 billion people do not have access to clean water. To ensure all these people and an additional 2.3 billion people expected by 2050 have access to adequate quantity and quality of water for all their needs will be a very challenging task. Future water-related problems and their solutions will be very different from the past. Identification and solutions of these problems will require new insights, knowledge, technology, management and administrative skills, and effective coordination of multisectoral and multidisciplinary skills, use of innovative approaches, adaptable mindsets and proactive functional institutions. Many of the existing and widely accepted paradigms have to be replaced in the future turbulent and complex era of widespread social, economic, cultural and political changes. The new paradigms must accommodate diversified and contradictory demands of different stakeholders and their changing economic, social and political agendas. Rapidly changing global conditions will make future water governance more complex than ever before in human history. Water management will change more during the next 20 years compared to the past 100 years. Policies and strategies that are future-oriented need to be formulated, which can reform public institutions, satisfy evolving social and economic aspirations and concurrently overturn decades of water misuse and overexploitation. During the coming uncertain era, water policies have to juggle regularly with competing, conflicting and changing needs of different users and stakeholders and simultaneously ensure water, food, energy and environmental securities. Water is one of the few common threads that will bind the development concerns of the future. In the wake of the revolution taking place in water management, many long-held concepts are likely to disappear completely. New paradigms and models need to be developed to successfully meet the water challenges of the next three decades.
By Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada, Chapter of the book: Assessing Global Water Megatrends, edited by Asit K. Biswas, Cecilia Tortajada and Philippe Rohner, 2018, Springer-Nature, Singapore, pages 1-26. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10-6695-5_1