Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Marcus Barber invited to attend World Water Week in Stockholm 2007

Friday 11 May 2007

Futurist Marcus Barber has been invited to present at the Stockholm International Water Institute's prestigious World Water Week conference to be held in Stockholm later this year. His abstract submission 'Life versus Lifestyle: the emerging clash between consumer demands and water availability' forms part of the key workshop item of 'Managing Future Consumer Demands' which will attempt to consider the multitude of approaches and factors that will influence fresh water availability around the globe. The full abstract is availble below. To request a copy of the full paper, please contact us

Title of Paper:

‘Life versus Lifestyle: the emerging clash between consumer demands and water availability’

Key Words:  Consumers; Commercial Impacts; Globals; Lifestyles; Values


For arguably the first time in the history of humankind, the developed world is facing similar water access problems to those of their less developed counterparts. 

The author asserts that as water is relied upon in every stage of production, all trade exchanges are simply examples of shifting water in its various end states. This understanding creates a paradigmatic shift in thinking for consumers of tomorrow who will increasingly rely upon ‘water used in production’ as an influencing factor when considering which products to buy.

In this piece we use two new concepts to change our paradigm on water access and use: the Global Currency Map”(GCM)  that assesses the types of challenges faced around the world and the different societal approaches to dealing with the crisis of water access; and a universal currency unit called Globals - the equivalent of 1 litre of fresh water.  

By using Globals as a currency unit, consumers are made aware of the true costs associated with creating products and services and will begin to make more critical choices about the types of products they buy and influence their understanding about appropriate uses of water.  This awareness will lead to a massive increase in pressure on companies whose high water use is deemed unacceptable give the consumers’ values. The author envisages a consumer based water usage guide that will enable the same product type from different manufacturers to be compared for water consumption.

The GCM also shines a spotlight on the topographical, geographical and societal biases that influence the amount and quality of available water.  In this light we understand that countries that have an abundance of Globals to ‘spend’ tend to be more materialistic while those that have few typically face survival issues.  The emerging consumer issue around the world can now be summed up as a choice between Life versus Lifestyle.

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