20 Countries with the Most Freshwater Resources - InvestingChannel

20 Countries with the Most Freshwater Resources

In this article, we take a look at the 20 countries with the most freshwater resources If you want to, you can skip our detailed discussion of global freshwater resources and analysis of industries related to it, and go directly to our shorter list of the 5 Countries With the Most Freshwater Resources.

According to the World Bank’s 2020 data, global freshwater consumption has amounted to 3,864 billion cubic meters (m3), with around 70 percent of freshwater used in agriculture. The 3 main sources of freshwater (groundwater, surface water, and rainwater) are not meeting the global water need, which keeps increasing due to economic and population growth.

While water is abundant in some parts of the world, other regions are deprived of basic water necessities. According to a UNESCO report published in 2023 on behalf of the UN-Water conference in New York, 2 billion people (26% of the global population) do not have access to safe drinking water, and 46% of the global population — around 3.6 billion people — lack access to safely managed sanitation.  

Water scarcity is one of the biggest environmental issues the world is currently facing. While only 0.5% of the world’s water is usable, climate change, topped with population growth, is dangerously impacting the freshwater supply. According to the UN, over the past couple of decades, terrestrial water storage, including ice, snow, and soil moisture, has dropped at a rate of 1 cm per year. However, population growth and climate change are not the only factors increasing water scarcity. Lack of awareness of water conservation methods among individuals is another leading cause of water scarcity. As EPA reports, the average family in the United States can waste 180 gallons per week or 9,400 gallons of water annually. 

A running faucet while we brush our teeth or a broken shower head continuously leaking may not seem like a bigger problem when we have never faced a water supply issue. However, 2.4 billion people are living in water-stressed countries, as reported by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, under SDG 6. Even more alarming is UNICEF’s water scarcity prediction that says half of the global population will be living in water-stressed areas by as early as 2025, which is less than 11 months away. 

While the growing water scarcity is a concern for all, the prospect of shortages in the upcoming years will make water a precious commodity. Hence, an opportunity for investors.

Water Investment: Freshwater Industries Stock 

Arguably, water is the most important resource on planet Earth. The depletion of freshwater resources and out-of-control water wastage has contributed to an increase in its scarcity levels. So, as with any other scarce commodity, investing in water stocks can be a great opportunity for investors (See: 11 Best Water Stocks To Buy).

A group of traditional mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are already in action, investing in stocks that contribute to the delivery, testing, and cleaning of drinking water. Some of the leading ETFs and companies in the water industry are Invesco Water Resources ETF (NASDAQ: PHO), Xylem (NYSE: XYL), and York Water Co (NASDAQ: YORW).

Being an ETF, Invesco Water Resources (NASDAQ: PHO) uses pooled funds to invest in a wide array of water-related companies. As of Q4 2023 ending, Invesco Water Resources ETF (NASDAQ: PHO) has a total of 39 holdings with the most weightage of 8.38% in Ferguson PLC (NYSE: FERG), 7.92% in Veralto (NYSE: VLTO), and 7.71% in Danaher (NYSE: DHR). 

On the other hand, Xylem (NYSE: XYL), which specializes in designing and manufacturing engineered products and solutions for treating water, launched a joint venture pump manufacturing site in Egypt last year in 2023. In the same year, Xylem (NYSE: XYL) launched several volunteer programs and helped 1000 NGOs deliver water scarcity solutions and awareness across 56 countries.

Meanwhile, York Water Co (NASDAQ: YORW) recently completed a two-year-long construction project on its dam and spillway in York County, costing $40 million. With these renovations and improvements of the dam, the once-dried Lake Williams is getting refilled. J.T. Hand, President and CEO of York Water Co (NASDAQ: YORW) says that once Lake William is refilled, it will provide water to 202,000 people in York County. 

Listed below are the 20 Countries with the Most Freshwater Resources.

20 Countries with the most freshwater resources Aerial view of a busy water resource management facility, with a river running through it, dotted with homes.

Our Methodology

For our list of the 20 countries with the most freshwater resources, we have considered the renewable internal freshwater resources per country. We sourced our data from the World Bank’s Renewable Internal Freshwater database. The list is ranked based on the renewable internal freshwater of each country in m³ as of 2020 (most recent data available). The list is in ascending order.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that uses a consensus approach to identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The website tracks the movement of corporate insiders and hedge funds. Our top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). So, if you are looking for the best stock picks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

20 Countries with the Most Freshwater Resources

20. Mexico

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 409 billion

Mexico, a country in North America, is the thirteenth largest country by area and the tenth most populous one. It has a population of about 130 million people, with a vast majority being Spanish Speakers. Mexico has 409 billion cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater and 3,246.08 cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater per capita. 

The country’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala, has a length of 80km and covers an area of 1,100 km². 76% of Mexico’s water resources are consumed by the agriculture and livestock sector. 

19. Japan

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 430 billion

Ranked nineteen, Japan is a world leader in several domains and is also one of the countries with the most freshwater resources. It is an island country in East Asia and is bordered by the Sea of Japan. The nation has 430 billion cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater and 3,405.64 cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater per capita. Japan’s freshwater sources include surface water, rivers, and lakes, with the largest freshwater lake being Lake Biwa.

18. Ecuador

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 442.4 billion

Ecuador is a country in South America, best known for its biodiversity, owing to the geographical and climatic features of the land. Ecuador has renewable internal freshwater of 442.4 billion cubic meters, out of which, 82% is used for agriculture. There are several freshwater river systems in the country, including the Guayas River, which is a major source of freshwater in Ecuador.

Overall, there are about 2,000 rivers and streams that run through the country, and all these contribute significantly to the geography and economy of Ecuador. It has 25,152.66 cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater per capita.

17. Philippines

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 479 billion

From the richness of its culture and history to the beauty of its vast landscapes, the Philippines is said to be the Pearl of Asia. It is an archipelago, or a group of over 7,100 islands, in southeastern Asia situated between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Alongside some spectacular beaches, the Philippines features ample freshwater resources, including 18 major river basins with 421 principal rivers, 221 lakes, and significant groundwater. On top of that, the country experiences an average annual rainfall of 2,400 mm, providing annual freshwater of 146 billion cubic meters. Overall, the Philippines has renewable internal freshwater of 479 billion cubic meters and 4,269.51 cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater per capita.

16. Australia

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 492 billion

Australia, a country globally known for its natural wonders, beaches, wide-open spaces, and vast deserts, is one of the world’s most highly urbanized countries. While it is one of the largest countries on Earth, it is naturally gifted with one the largest underground freshwater resources in the world, the Great Artesian Basin. The Great Artesian Basin spans around 1.7 million square kilometers and holds around 65 million gigalitres (GL) of groundwater, which is enough to fill the Sydney Harbour 130,000 times. 

While the country is blessed with ample groundwater resources, it is the driest inhabited continent in terms of rainfall. According to the BOM annual report 2023, the nationally average rainfall for Australia was just 473.70 mm, which was 1.6% above the 1961–1990 average of 466.0 mm. 

Moreover, on average, only 12% of rainfall flows into the rivers, which is quite low compared to 39% for Europe and 52% for North America. Regardless, Australia has renewable internal freshwater of 492 billion cubic meters and 19,181.85 cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater.

15. Malaysia

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 580 billion

With renewable internal freshwater of 580 billion cubic meters, Malaysia is a country in Asia blessed with ample rainfall and freshwater resources. The country receives an average rainfall of 3,000 mm annually, which contributes around 900 billion cubic meters to the country’s water resource. Moreover, about 97% of freshwater for agricultural, domestic, and industrial needs is taken from surface waters, mainly rivers. The country has 189 river basins, and all the country’s rivers originate and flow from the highlands.  

14. Papua New Guinea

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 801 billion

Papua New Guinea is largely a mountainous country with a landmass of about 452,860 square kilometers, with over 600 Islands, and a population of over 10 million people. Additionally, PNG has 5,383 natural freshwater lakes, and 22 of these lakes have a surface area exceeding 647 cubic kilometers. 

While the country has an abundance of water resources, its groundwater resources are poorly developed, resulting in a lack of water access for the people. As of 2020 data, Papua New Guinea has a renewable internal freshwater of 801 billion cubic meters.

13. Venezuela

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 805 billion

With towering mountains, tropical jungles, broad river basins, and arid coastal plains, Venezuela enjoys the natural diversity in its landscapes. But beyond that, Venezuela ranks 13th among the countries with the most renewable freshwater resources and has a renewable internal freshwater of 805 billion cubic meters. 

However, despite having ample renewable fresh water, the poor management by the state has disrupted the water supply and access to safe water in the country. 

12. Chile

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 885 billion

Chile, a long, narrow country extending down the west coast of South America, offers diverse landscapes with desert land in the northern regions, agricultural land and valleys in the central, and lakes, forests, and glaciers in the southern regions. 

With several rivers and an annual average rainfall of 1,522 mm (as of the World Bank report) in the country, Chile enjoys renewable internal freshwater of 885 billion cubic meters.

11. DR Congo

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 900 billion

Ranked eleven on our list, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is a country in Central Africa with a short Atlantic Ocean coastline, a major valley, a large river basin, high plateaus, and three mountain ranges. The country enjoys abundant water resources, and according to the World Bank, possesses more than 50% of Africa’s surface water and around one-quarter of Africa’s internal renewable water. Putting into perspective, DR Congo has 900 billion cubic meters of total renewable internal freshwater. 

10. Myanmar

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 1 trillion

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar has a population of 53.8 million and is the largest country by area in Mainland Southeast Asia. As of 2020, the country had a trillion cubic meters of renewable inland freshwater. Its freshwater supplies include several lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and ponds. Myanmar’s water is most consumed by agriculture (89%), and least consumed for industrial purposes (1%), according to the Asia Development Bank.

9. India

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 1.4 trillion

With 1.4 trillion cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater, India has 4% of the world’s water resources. However, it is also home to 16% of the world’s population, which results in water scarcity across various regions in the country. As of 2024, India is considered one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Increases in consumption and climate change further threaten the supply of safe water and sanitation to Indian families. The most prominent freshwater lakes in the country include the Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir, the Loktak Lake in Manipur, and the Barapani Lake in Meghalaya. 

8. Peru

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 1.6 trillion

Peru, a country in South America with 1.6 trillion of renewable internal freshwater, is the eighth richest country in the world in terms of freshwater. It has 159 river basins, and the largest and most important lake in the country is Lake Titicaca.

The country’s social and economic development, alongside sustainable ecosystems, depends heavily on water, as water-intensive sectors make up nearly two-fifths of Peru’s GDP. However, even though the country is water-rich, Peru still faces a water scarcity issue, with 50% of the population not having access to safely managed water. 

7. Indonesia

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 2 trillion

Indonesia is a country in Asia with 521 natural lakes and over 100 reservoirs, which cover about 21,000 km². The largest lake in the country is Lake Toba, located in North Sumatra, a province within Indonesia. It is home to 273.8 million people, according to World Bank’s 2021 data.

Furthermore, Indonesia is mainly dependent on its surface water resources for proper water supply delivery. However, the country also faces demand and supply, water storage capacity, and management issues. As of 2020, the country had 2 trillion cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater. 

6. Colombia

Renewable Internal Freshwater in m³ as of 2020: 2.1 trillion

Colombia is a country in South America best known for its modernity, cultural diversity, and significant natural resources. It is also the country with the sixth-highest volume of renewable freshwater, and the country with the largest amount of freshwater resources in the world. As of 2020 data, Colombia had 2.1 trillion cubic meters of renewable internal freshwater. The country has a population of 52,085,168 people, and the renewable internal freshwater per capita is 42116.08 m3.

However, despite the abundance of water resources in the country, Columbia still struggles with water stress due to water pollution and overconsumption caused by a growing population and increasing urbanization. Around 5% of the population has severely limited access, or no access at all, to clean water. Water waste from households, industries, and agriculture pollutes the water bodies in the country such that water distribution systems and wastewater treatment solutions are unable to cope.  

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Disclosure: None. 20 Countries with the Most Freshwater Resources is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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