Pictet Asset Management: Water stewardship and climate change

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Pictet Asset Management - Water stewardship in a time of climate change

As the world moves from pledges to plans, it is critical we tackle the question of climate holistically. Living with climate change will mean coping with the impacts on water and taking the necessary steps to reduce the vulnerabilities of communities and economies.


Unfortunately, global economic systems have long treated water as if it is infinite and of little value, leading to massive waste and misuse of the resource, endangering ecosystems, human health, and long-term economic sustainability. For people to prosper, they need sustainable access to water that is safe to drink and free from waterborne disease. Though 2.8 billion people gained ‘improved’ water access between 1981 and 2015, 2.1 billion people did not have access to safe water.


Did you know?

In 2015, it was estimated that 4.5 billion people (61%) did not have access to safe sanitation.


While in the 1960’s 24% of people globally lived in areas of water stress or scarcity, this rose to 58% in the 2000s, with 17% living with both high stress and scarcity. This is due to climate change and urbanisation, with urban dwellers consuming more water than rural dwellers and affluence also driving up water demand.


"Absolute scarcity is going to become the norm and therefore water management needs to be integrated into all aspects of public policy making both within a country and internationally."

David Lloyd Owen, member of the Pictet Water Advisory Board. 


The 2022 Beijing Olympics illustrates the chronic dismissal of water versus other economic, environmental, or social issues. Touted by its organisers as the “greenest games ever” through a host of measures such as repurposing venues, using energy-saving transport, exclusively use of renewable energy and planting trees in Africa. But very little was said about the impact of using 100% artificial snow in a region that is one of the most water stressed in the country. It is estimated 2.8 million cubic metres of water will be consumed to make snow in a region that only receives 21 cm average snowfall annually. That is enough to fill 1,000 Olympic-sized pools. 


With wastewater starting to be seen as a resource and using nature-based solutions to good effect, an affordable and sustainable water future becomes a real prospect. We need to accelerate the pace of change. As investors and philanthropists there are many ways to have a positive impact to solve the water challenge. As active owners, we can engage with management of companies that have a material impact on the water cycle to foster the transition, making sure water is on the agenda alongside carbon when we look at climate change.


Meanwhile, we are at the start of a digital revolution, which could fundamentally change water management, through delivering better services, that use less water.


We can also provide clients with investment solutions that direct capital to the companies fostering the transition or creating the solutions to the water challenge. Finally, philanthropy and grant making will also be key in funding crucial water projects, where profits are not possible or will take time to materialise. 


Source: AGEFI - In collaboration with Swiss Trading and Shipping Association (STSA) 


Important Information 

This article is used for informational purposes only and does not constitute,on Pictet Asset Management part, an offer to buy or sell solicitation or investment advice. It has been established on the basis of data, projections, forecasts, anticipations and hypothesis which are subjective. Its analysis and conclusions are the expression of an opinion, based on available data at a specific date. The effective evolution of the economic variables and values of the financial markets could be significantly different from the indications communicated in this document.


Marie-Laure Schaufelberger

Head of Group ESG & Stewardship

Pictet Asset Management

April 2022

Please note that these are the views of Marie-Laure Schaufelberger of Pictet Asset Management and should not be interpreted as the views of RL360.

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A range of Pictet funds can be accessed through our guided architecture products Regular Savings Plan, Regular Savings Plan Malaysia, Oracle, Paragon, Quantum, Quantum Malaysia, LifePlan, LifePlan Lebanon, Protected Lifestyle and Protected Lifestyle Lebanon, and also through our PIMS portfolio bond.