The World Economic Forum (WEF) last week published the 2017 edition of its Global Risks Report. For the sixth year running, water crises were listed as among the top five global risks in terms of impact.

This year, the WEF has also picked out the five most important risk interconnections. One of them is the link between the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation and water crises. In other words, if we fail to act on climate change, water crises become a very real threat in a lot of global regions.

And the links accumulate from there. Water crises have the potential to further destabilise already precarious social and political situations. As the flow of migrants across the planet continues, many of the countries hosting large refugee populations are also the most water-insecure or water-stressed. Countries such as Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Jordan face the challenge of supplying water to large refugee populations and a growing population of citizens while also managing supplies for a future made ever more uncertain by the progression of climate change.

Does the global community of nations have the capacity to cooperate to reduce the likelihood and potential impacts of these multiple interconnected risks? And what can non-state actors like large industrial, mining and agricultural water users do to help?

"ineffective management of the “global commons” – the oceans, atmosphere, and climate system – can have local as well as global consequences. For example, changing weather patterns or water crises can trigger or exacerbate geopolitical and societal risks such as domestic or regional conflict and involuntary migration, particularly in geopolitically fragile areas."
WEF's Global Risks Report 2017