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Working paper

Water resources - an analysis of trends, weak signals and wild cards with implications for Russia

Saritas O., Proskuryakova L. N., Кызынгашева Е. С.
Water resources are crucial for the continuity of life. Humans and living species need fresh water for drinking and sanitation, while industries in most sectors of the economy need water for some part of production processes themselves. Access to fresh water is a grand challenge at the global level, mainly due to increasing water consumption, a low rate of replenishment of resources as well as external factors, like climate change, that significantly reduce amount of water available. The solutions to the existing water problems require systemic approaches for the sustainable use of water resources, while advancing water infrastructure and providing circular use of water.   Russia is one of the countries, which is relatively better positioned compared to a number of other countries in the world regarding the availability of water resources. However, there are still considerable issues regarding the protection and use of water resources, purification processes, water networks, consumption patterns, discharge, treatment and re-use. The present study focuses on the use of water resources in Russia with a long term perspective developed through a Foresight study. The first step involved a scanning exercise, to be followed by future scenarios on the second step, and strategy proposals for action on the third one. The paper presents the results of the scanning phase.   The present paper consists of four parts. The introduction reviews the key issues and challenges concerning water resources. The first part describes the detailed research methodology. Furthermore, trends and uncertainties are identified in the course of the study, and their implications for water resources in Russia are discussed. Particular attention is paid to state-of-the-art situation in three domains identified in the scope of research: sustainability of water systems, water use by households and industry, and new water products and services. Weak signals and wild cards are described in the third part. The paper concludes with a brief description of the next phases of the study and follow-up activities planned in the project.