Agricultural and industrial impacts on drinking water

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The European Parliament has released a report entitled ‘The human right to drinking water: Impact of large-scale agriculture and industry’, which investigates the impacts of large-scale agricultural activity and industry on the fulfilment of the human right to drinking water.

In particular, the report considers how the European Union and the European Parliament can increase support for non-EU countries facing problems around provision of drinking water for all citizens. Such problems often result from competing water uses and poor enabling environments and power dynamics, and where water use in one sector can have adverse impacts on others.

Currently, efforts towards ensuring that everyone in the world has access to drinking water are frustrated by competing uses between agriculture, energy, extractive and other industrial activities relying on large quantities of water resources. Because the global economy facilitates foreign activity and business in these sectors, this often has the knock-on effect of generating concerns around the local availability of water for human consumption and its quality.

In particular, the report examines the impacts of agriculture and industry on drinking water availability at household level, and considers the involvement of states and businesses in large-scale agricultural activity and industry, and the resulting impacts on the right to drinking water.