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Meeting the Water Reform Challenge

image of Meeting the Water Reform Challenge
The need to reform water policies is as urgent as ever. 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.   Despite progress on many fronts, governments around the world are still confronted with the need to reform their existing water policies in order to meet current objectives and future challenges. Building on the water challenges identified by the OECD Environment Outlook to 2050, this report examines three fundamental areas that need to be addressed whatever reform agendas are pursued by governments: financing of the water sector; the governance and institutional arrangements that are in place; and coherence between water policies and policies in place in other sectors of the economy. The report provides governments with practical advice and policy tools to pursue urgent reform in their water sectors.

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Framing the water reform challenge

Access to clean water is fundamental to human well-being. Managing water to meet that need is a major – and growing – challenge in many parts of the world. Many people are suffering from an inadequate quantity and quality of water, as well as stress from floods and droughts and this has implications for health, the environment, and economic development. Without major policy changes and considerable improvements in water management processes and techniques, by 2050 the situation is likely to deteriorate, and will be compounded by increasing competition for water and increasing uncertainty about water availability. The policy solutions are often readily apparent. The key challenge lies in implementing reforms to existing water policies. This chapter highlights the reform challenges confronting governments drawing on the key trends and projections from the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050.

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