NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Something that many might take for granted is becoming highly coveted: water.
In fact, water has become more precious than gold.
Over the past 10 years the S&P 500 Global Water index has outperformed the bellwether gold and energy indices.
In fact, water outperformed the stock market in the same period.
While the planet Earth is primarily covered in water, only 2.5% of it is fresh, and only a portion of that is drinkable. In fact, many global agencies now say human kind is in a water crisis.
The World Economic Forum names it as the number three global risk of 2014.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that, "over 780 million people today do not have access to improved sources of drinking water, especially in Africa."
The corporate world has weighed in as well. The chairman of Nestle, the world's largest food company, says that water is, "a human right." Of course, Nestle also sells 63 brands of water around the planet.
Wall Street has taken notice of companies tackling the issue of supplying clean water and many are fast becoming the darlings of the investing world.
H20 is a $600 billion business, but it will grow to a $1 trillion by over the next six years according to a research report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch which cites dozens of companies that it thinks should benefit from water related themes and have global exposure to the water business.
The report breaks the global water market into four distinct categories. For water treatment the list includes firms like Stericycle. For water management, companies like Monsanto fit the bill. When it comes to water infrastructure & supply the list includes companies like American Water Works. The final group contains water-friendly energy companies that provide wind, solar and geothermal opportunities like NRG Energy.
But besides the problem of generating enough clean water, the water crisis also raises some scary potential scenarios.
One is the idea that water will cause global conflicts in the future. Since water, food, and agriculture are so closely tied together, the idea of "water wars" erupting in Africa, the Middle East and Asia is seen as a real possibility by the Pacific Institute, a non-profit research group that studies resources worldwide, as nations rush to secure fresh water for their populations.
And don't think that it's only a third world problem. The U.S. Department of State has already mentioned water risk as a threat to national security.
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