This article argues that groundwater - accounting for 98% of all fresh water on earth - is central to human development. Drawing upon studies at the regional and sub-regional level, this review article explores synergies and trade-offs between groundwater development and human development.
On one hand, groundwater exploitation may enhance human development. Groundwater’s ‘‘untapped potential’’ related to various aspects of human development involves:
- Water supply for irrigation and domestic purposes;
- Climate change adaptation and hydrological resilience;
- Hydrogeological storage of CO2; and
- Access to (renewable) energy.
On the other hand, human development may come at the expense of quality deterioration or depletion of groundwater. The review concludes that achieving a sound understanding of local groundwater characteristics and human impact on groundwater resources across scales is paramount to implementing the sustainable development goals in an integrated manner.