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Water is essential to life. We depend on it for our survival. The basic need has shaped how human societies have advanced over time. Explorers from pre-Columbian times and the age of antiquity to NASA have lived by the motto “follow the water” as they have sought and continue to seek to discover new opportunities for the expansion of human civilization.
While water is plentiful – covering 70% of the Earth’s surface – 97% of this water is saline, located in our oceans, and not fit to drink or use for crops. The world’s fresh water is not equally distributed or accessible and is found disproportionately in places where people do not live. And as human civilization has expanded, we have reached the point globally where humanity depletes the available freshwater supply at a rate of 4.3 trillion cubic meters every year – the majority of which goes to agricultural and industrial uses.
This needs to change. That’s why we’re announcing an ambitious commitment for Microsoft to be water positive for our direct operations by 2030. We’re tackling our water consumption in two ways: reducing our water use intensity – or the water we use per megawatt of energy used for our operations – and replenishing water in the water- stressed regions we operate. This means that by 2030 Microsoft will replenish more water than it consumes on a global basis.