OECD Studies on Water

2224-5081 (online)
2224-5073 (print)
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Water is essential for economic growth, human health, and the environment. Yet governments around the world face significant challenges in managing their water resources effectively. The problems are multiple and complex: billions of people are still without access to safe water and adequate sanitation; competition for water is increasing among the different uses and users; and major investment is required to maintain and improve water infrastructure in OECD and non-OECD countries. This OECD series on water provides policy analysis and guidance on the economic, financial and governance aspects of water resources management. These aspects generally lie at the heart of the water problem and hold the key to unlocking the policy puzzle.

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Enhancing Water Use Efficiency in Korea

Enhancing Water Use Efficiency in Korea

Policy Issues and Recommendations You do not have access to this content

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22 Sep 2017
9789264281707 (PDF) ;9789264281660(print)

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The report, building on a policy dialogue with a range of stakeholders in Korea, analyses how economic policy instruments under the responsibility of the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport can be adjusted to contribute to water policy objectives. It also investigates how Smart Water Management Korea, an initiative by K-water that combines information and communication technology with water technology, can be harnessed to better contribute to water management in the country. Finally, it identifies some of the limitations of prevalent water allocation regimes which need to be addressed to make the best use of available water resources.

Since 1965, the Korean Government has invested heavily in quantitative development strategies to meet water needs, and despite highly variable water availability, this has allowed for and facilitated rapid urbanisation and economic growth. However, several long-term trends are expected to affect the capacity of the current water management system to adequately respond to current and future water risks, such as rapid ageing of the population, fiscal consolidation and climate change. These call for a renewed emphasis on water use efficiency.

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  • Note from the Secretariat

    This report was prepared by the OECD Secretariat to support discussions towards sustainable management of water scarcity in Korea. It lays down assessments and recommendations, building on interviews conducted with a range of Korean stakeholders during the fact-finding mission (4-8 April 2016), information provided by the Korean authorities (MoLIT and K-water) and technical discussions (19-21 October 2016). Draft assessments and recommendations were discussed with several ministries and a range of stakeholders during a policy seminar organised in Daejeon, on 2-3 March 2017. Comments received during and after the seminar have been reflected in the current document.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Water management in Korea has been able to deal with and facilitate rapid urbanisation and economic growth. This remarkable achievement is a result of heavy investment in quantitative development strategies to meet water needs and protect against risks of floods and droughts.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    Korea, a water-stressed country, was able to grow and urbanise faster than most other countries, by investing in water infrastructure to augment supply and prevent flood risks. Long term trends such as an ageing population and more uncertainty about water availability – due to climate change – question the prevailing model, characterised by heavy reliance on (publicly financed) infrastructure.

  • Water management in Korea at a turning point

    This chapter characterises water resources in Korea. It reviews past experience with water management. The focus is on the management of water quantity, which is a prerogative of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

  • Policy, legal and institutional framework for water management in Korea

    This chapter presents the policy, legal and institutional features that make up Korea’s water management framework. It documents the main water policy trends that have prevailed in the last fifty years and chronicles key reforms that have marked water management in Korea. In addition, it discusses current reflections towards the adoption of a Basic Law on Water Resources Management.

  • Economic instruments for water quantity management under the responsibility of MoLIT

    This chapter reviews three economic instruments for water quantity management in Korea from a financial and economic perspective, which are under the responsibility of MoLIT. Specifically, it seeks to answer two questions: i) Do the instruments generate the revenues needed to finance the operation, maintenance and renewal of existing infrastructures to supply dam and river water? ii) Can they promote water use efficiency, stimulate private sector investment in water savings, or allocate water where it is most needed? The chapter reviews international experience with similar instruments and suggests options to transition towards economic instruments that actively contribute to water policy objectives.

  • Smart Water Management in Korea

    This chapter presents Smart Water Management in Korea, an initiative to combine water and information and communication technologies to improve water resources management and the supply of water services in Korea and abroad.

  • Water allocation

    This chapter reviews the situation with water allocation regimes in Korea. It highlights the current limitations and the consequences for water management in the country, and it points at options for reform. The level of ambition of this chapter is limited, as the issue cuts across administrative and sector boundaries and requires extensive consultation with water users and water policy makers from a range of perspectives. Such a review is beyond the objective of this project, but would benefit from a dedicated water policy dialogue in Korea.

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