Meeting the Water Reform Challenge

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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.



Meeting the water financing challenge

Financing has been a recurring theme in international debate on water and has been a key feature of reform efforts in many countries. Increasing access to water supply and sanitation, ensuring the environmental sustainability of water ecosystems, reducing the impacts of floods and drought, and ensuring water is used to maximise welfare across an economy all require financial support. Yet, despite some progress, securing sustainable finance for this wide range of services is an ongoing struggle for most countries, particularly in the current global economic crisis. This chapter examines the policy challenges surrounding the financing of water supply and sanitation and presents a policy toolkit that can underpin policy dialogues to stimulate much needed reform. The chapter also addresses the growing problem of financing the broader water resources management functions of government.


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