CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The global water services industry is set to double to $1 trillion in annual revenues by 2020 as companies address the growing problem of water scarcity, according to a new BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report.

The report, titled “A Blue Revolution – global water,” is based on the collective views of 35 analysts, covering 60 companies from 18 countries.

Water is on course to be scarcer than oil by 2030, with demand outstripping water supply by 40 percent. Close to half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Insufficient freshwater, uneven distribution and climate change are factors limiting the supply of water, while demand is growing in homes, businesses and farms around the world. Unless more sustainable water management practices are adopted, 45 percent of projected 2050 global GDP at 2000 prices could be at risk — equal to $63 trillion.

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BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research has identified the companies it believes are in the strongest position to benefit from the global dynamics of water supply and demand. The report highlights how Asia and South America are poised for the strongest growth. With public finances under pressure, the private sector will have to provide more funding. The report estimates that 30 percent of global investment will come from private sources by 2016, compared with only 16 percent today.

The report outlines three themes of addressing water scarcity, explaining the challenges in each area and the potential solutions that companies are developing. The themes are: Water Treatment, Water Management, and Water Infrastructure and Supply. It identifies companies that have the greatest exposure to the megatrend of scarcity.

“By addressing the issue of water scarcity, companies can reduce the likelihood of social unrest and trans-boundary disputes,” said Sarbjit Nahal, equity strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. “Together with our sector analysts, we are setting out in this report the 60 global stocks covered by BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research that are best-positioned to lead in addressing more sustainable water use and to more closely match supply with demand.”