OECD Studies on Water

2224-5081 (en ligne)
2224-5073 (imprimé)
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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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Water Security for Better Lives

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02 sep 2013
Pages :
9789264202405 (PDF) ;9789264202399(imprimé)

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This publication examines the critical issues surrounding water security (water shortage, water excess, inadequate water quality, the resilience of freshwater systems), providing a rationale for a risk-based approach and the management of trade-offs between water and other (sectoral and environmental) policies.
The report sets out a three-step process to “know”, “target” and “manage” water risks: (1) appraising the risks, (2) judging the tolerability and acceptability of risks and weighing risk-risk trade-offs, and (3) calibrating appropriate responses.
The publication provides policy analysis and guidance on the use of market-based instruments and the complex links between water security and other policy objectives, such as food security, energy security, climate mitigation and biodiversity protection.

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  • Preface and Acknowledgements

    Water security is one of the defining challenges of our time. By the middle of the next century, over 40% of the global population will live under severe water stress. As global population increases, so will tensions among different water uses.

  • Abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Water security is a major policy challenge confronting governments around the world. In the absence of significant reforms of water and water-related policies, the outlook for water is pessimistic. Water security in many regions will continue to deteriorate due to increasing water demand, water stress and water pollution. Governments need to speed up efforts to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in water management to better manage the risks of potential water shortages (including droughts), water excess (including floods), inadequate water quality, as well as the risk of undermining the resilience of freshwater systems (rivers, lakes, aquifers). By taking a broad, long-term vision that emphasises the explicit management of water-related risks and trade-offs between these risks, governments are more likely to meet their water-related economic, environmental and social objectives.

  • Why does water security matter?

    Water security is about managing water risks, including risks of water shortage, excess, pollution, and risks of undermining the resilience of freshwater systems. This chapter provides the rationale and conceptual basis for a risk-based approach to water security. It argues that a risk-based approach has many advantages over current policies to manage water security and could be applied more systematically to improve water security cost-effectively.

  • Applying a risk-based approach to water security

    This chapter provides guidance on how to apply a risk-based approach to water security through a three-step process: know the risks, target the risks and manage the risks. The chapter also provides insights on ways to adapt water risk management to the level of risk. By way of illustration, country cases of water risk management in selected OECD countries are included.

  • Achieving water security targets through market-based instruments

    Once set, water security targets should be achieved at least possible economic cost (i.e. cost-effectiveness should be pursued). This chapter suggests how market-based instruments can be used to promote more effective water management. Using theory, examples and case studies, a description is given as to how economic approaches may be used, particularly in OECD countries, to manage water risks.

  • Policy coherence toward water security

    Water security should be pursued taking account of complex links with economic and sectoral policies. Setting acceptable levels of water risks among stakeholders should be the result of well-informed trade-offs between water security and other policy objectives. Meeting the coherence challenge also requires a coherent approach between water and other (sectoral, environmental) policies.

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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Annexes

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    • Glossary of terms
    • Basic water facts

      This Annex provides basic facts on water supply, demand, quantity and quality at the global and OECD area levels, and projections to 2050. It also provides insights on the potential impacts of climate change and a discussion on indicators to measure water stress.

    • Costs and distributional impacts of inaction

      Drawing on a literature review, this Annex provides examples on the local costs and distributional impacts of not managing the risks of water of inadequate quality (microbial and chemical water pollution) and groundwater shortage in selected countries.

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