UN statistics state that in 2014, 54 per cent of the world?s population lived in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. Furthermore, 1.8 billion people in the world still do not have access to clean water and 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation, although these numbers have decreased substantially in recent decades. Emerging economies typically invest first in water and then in wastewater technologies. The challenge to keep pace with growing economy and urban population, especially in so called mega cities (those with more than 10 million inhabitants). In addition, there are still large areas in emerging and developing economies where inhabitants have no access to water, posing a threat to social peace.
There is another main difference between developed economies and emerging markets: developed economies often have a decentralized market, where state-owned, private, or semi-private companies are the main players. In emerging markets, the main target is always the government or a state-owned company, which typically is responsible for a larger area.
The biggest markets, China and India, both struggle to keep up with growing urbanization and will have to provide clean drinking water and make sure wastewater is properly treated. Monitoring and managing industrial wastewater and supplying water and wastewater treatment facilities in their vast rural areas represent additional challenges for both countries.