War over water? If we can have wars over oil, why not water, farmland and other resources that drive economic development? It could happen, according to Nausheen Kaul, principal with A.T. Kearney, advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations.
But it struck me how, based on the data they get from firms such as Kearney, how global organizations react: They’ve already begun moving to acquire or otherwise secure the world’s water supplies and prime agricultural real estate, Kaul said.
That was just one nugget from Kaul’s presentation on global economic trends. (My straight-news version of it’s here.) His main goal was insight-shedding, not fear-mongering.
What are the implications of this war-over-water business, beyond pure monetary gain?
There are a few ways to look at it. One is that that massive land-and-water grabs by Western firms will stabilize developing economies. Another perspective is that this activity will amount to economic colonization and will fuel the conflict as surely as the British political colonization did…and will ultimately fail. A third perspective is that conflict is inevitable, and given the regulatory climate, Big Money in the West must do what it does because regulations allow it and shareholders demand it; if Coke doesn’t gobble-up the world’s water and land, Pepsi will.
As global financial leaders invest, governments will continue to buckle under the pressure of aging populations and worsening inequality.
Natural resource and political instability, Kaul said, is already causing a “Global Resource Nexus” in which the interplay between the supply and demand of food, energy and water are driving some troubling developments. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be “hyper-urbanized” into cities, governments will buckle under the pressure to accommodate aging populations and technology developments will make or break efforts to feed more people, sustainably and with fewer resources.
Kaul presented solutions for how companies can prepare, but they’re all about benefits to business. Is what’s good for business always good for mankind?
I’d like to know, but don’t comment here; drop me a line.