Global water trends and future scenarios for sustainable development: The case of Russia
The grand challenge of accessing fresh water and sanitation is a global concern. The intensity of challenge depends on the geographical location as well as the level of socio-economic development of individual countries. The present paper first reviews the key water-related global trends and examines the global agenda on water issues. Next the focus is turned on Russia. Despite of being one of the water-rich countries in the world, Russia faces a number of substantial administrative and structural issues in the water sector. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a long-term strategy for the management of this infinite, but strategic resource. The present paper develops long-term scenarios and strategies for the Russian water sector towards the year 2030. The study draws upon an earlier horizon scanning activity that identified a set of global trends and uncertainties related to water sector. This horizon scanning work is extended into alternative futures for the Russian water sector by using a combination of Foresight methods including scenario analysis, data mining, and various expert methods. Scenarios developed are characterized by a set of qualitative and quantitative factors and indicators of future developments in three key domains for the water sector: (i) the sustainability of water systems; (ii) water use by households and industry; and (iii) new water products and services. Scenarios present four alternative trajectories for the water sector that may also be applied for certain countries whose water sector is comparable with the Russia. Among the scenarios developed in the study, it is concluded that the most probable ones are Problem conservation and Losses and accidents. However, there is a possibility to revert these scenarios into more desirable trajectories, which are presented in other scenarios. For instance, a variety of new clean water technologies may be widely applied to achieve the Nearly perfect future (visionary) scenario.