‘Fresh water is abundant despite accounting for less than 3% of the planet’s total supply. But water is very poorly distributed. Our rivers and streams represent a vast web that nourishes the planet’s territories, yet too much of the land is forgotten. Today, more than 660 million people do not have safe drinking water and 2.4 billion live without access to proper sanitation.

Water falls from the heavens, runs into streams, flows into groundwater, feeds lakes, then evaporates. It fuels biodiversity, sustains our crops and animals, helps generate energy and supports our towns and villages. Its scarcity affects people’s daily lives, even if we tend to forget this all too often in the developed world, as water treatment and distribution investment have brought us water on demand – though not always drinkable – through taps in our homes.’


This is a selection of the award-winning French photographer and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand essay on water. Read the ful essay here, which is the first essay in the Big Ideas series created by the European Investment Bank.