Water Security for Better Lives

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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.



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.


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