The availability of freshwater resources to meet human demands has emerged as a top-tier global issue for both environment and development. However, many decision-makers lack the technical expertise to fully understand hydrological information. In response to growing concerns from private sector actors around water availability, water quality, climate change, and increasing demand, the World Resources Institute (WRI) developed the Aqueduct Global Water Indicators. To develop this dataset, WRI employed the composite index approach as a robust communication tool to translate hydrological data into intuitive indicators of water- related risks.
WRI grouped 12 indicators into a framework identifying spatial variation in water risks. For 6 of the 12 indicators, WRI used an ensemble of time series estimators, spatial regression, and a sparse hydrological model to generate novel data sets of water supply and use. WRI adapted the remaining six indicators from existing publications. WRI chose aggregation methods to maximize transparency and communicability, and to allow for dynamic weighting to reflect different users’ sensitivities to water-related risks. WRI is currently unable to validate overall index scores because no datasets of water-related losses exist in the public domain. Data availability, specifically for major infrastructure (e.g., inter-basin transfers) and in-situ water quality and river gauge measurements, is the primary constraining factor in model accuracy.
The resulting Aqueduct Global Water Indicators database is a publicly available, global database and interactive tool that maps indicators of water-related risks. The Aqueduct Global Water Indicators enables comparison across large geographies to identify regions or assets deserving of closer attention. The data and maps are publicly available so that others may build off this effort.
The Aqueduct Global Water Indicators makes use of a framework of 12 global indicators grouped into three categories of risk and one overall score. Aqueduct Global Water Indicators include indicators of water quantity, water variability, water quality, public awareness of water issues, access to water, and ecosystem vulnerability. This data updates the previous version with more recent data from the Global Land Data Assimilation System Version 2.