Clean water and access to sanitation for all is one of the stated aims of the 2030 Agenda. Yet today, nearly 750 million people do not have access to clean water, and around 2.5 billion people have to get by with only inadequate sanitation or none at all. Sustainable Development Goal 6 explicitly addresses the quality and management of global water resources: “Water and sanitation are at the very core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet.” Water plays a vital role for humanity: Food, health, the environment and economic development all depend on a sufficient supply of good quality water.

Global warming will affect the availability of water in many regions of the world. Ensuring a reliable water supply is not only a question of quantity, but also of quality. In many places, the pollution of water resources exacerbates the problem of supply. Fertilizers and pesticides produce pollutants that pass into groundwater, for example. In emerging countries, as much as 90 percent of household and commercial effluent flows untreated into lakes, rivers and the sea.

The global water crisis can be eased and the goal of “clean water and sanitation” formulated in the 2030 Agenda achieved only through sustainable management of water resources – meeting the basic needs of current generations without endangering the livelihood of the generations to come. This can be done with the aid of environmental technology. The lead market for sustainable water management splits into five market segments that, together, model the various stages in the water management cycle (see Figure).

The market segment for water production and treatment models the first stage in this cycle. It incorporates products and processes to develop and extract fresh water resources, monitor groundwater and plan, build and operate water treatment plants.

The water system market segment spans all elements in the water distribution system that facilitate the transportation of fresh water from water treatment plants to consumers. In the other direction, it covers the transportation of wastewater from consumers to wastewater treatment plants. Wastewater cleaning and wastewater treatment methods are two further segments of the market for sustainable water management.

The market segment for efficiency gains in water usage covers a broad spectrum of products, processes and services that help us to handle water resources efficiently. Examples include water measurement instruments and water management systems. The technology lines in this market segment reflect the different groups of users: private households, commerce and industry, and agriculture.

Market segments and key technology lines

Market segments and key technology lines