The OECD is committed to supporting governments in their efforts to reform policies that influence the availability, use and management of water. OECD National Policy Dialogues on Water, which are demand-driven from OECD member and non-member countries, are designed to help set the water agenda and facilitate ambitious policy reform by:

  • Engaging in a constructive and collaborative conversation with stakeholders to identify the key issues and potential ways forward.

  • Providing clear options for reform, building on international good practice and a robust analysis of options in the country.

  • Establishing a realistic action plan, grounded in policy discussions with a wide range of stakeholders.

  • Initiating momentum for change that derives from political buy-in acquired in the consultation process.

OECD National Policy Dialogues on Water have been undertaken in a range of countries focussing on various elements of water policy reform, including financing and pricing, governance, allocation, water security and private sector participation.

This National Policy Dialogue focused on the opportunities and challenges related to managing the water-energy-land-food nexus in Korea. It led to policy recommendations and governance arrangements that can improve the management of the nexus, now and in the future. Water insecurity is often the main bottleneck in the WELF nexus which may limit economic growth across sectors, and impact human wellbeing and ecosystem health. Korea has engaged with the OECD via a national policy dialogue to explore best practices from the wider international community to better manage the WELF nexus at national and basin scales. This dialogue followed a similar effort in 2017 led by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and K-water on economic instruments for water management in Korea.

The process was coordinated by the Korean Ministry of Environment, with engagement from other ministries, including the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Strategy and Finance, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ministry of Public Safety and Security, and the Office for Government Policy Coordination. The process also involved a variety of stakeholders, from other administrations, civil society organisations and academia. The OECD Council Recommendation on Water, unanimously adopted by all member states in December 2016, proved to be a valuable reference to guide discussions and ways forward.

The report is structured into four chapters:

  • Chapter 1. Characterising the Water-Energy-Land-Food Nexus in Korea. This chapter discusses the key pressures on the nexus – now and in the future – and the capacity of policies and governance arrangements to respond.

  • Chapter 2. Managing water for the Water-Energy-Land-Food nexus in Korea. This chapter reviews policies and institutional arrangements to manage water quantity and quality in Korea.

  • Chapter 3. Towards policy coherence and sustainable management of the Water-Energy-Land-Food nexus in Korea. This chapter provides a rationale for improved planning against future water-related risks, independent regulation and other policy instruments to support the sustainable management of the WELF nexus.

  • Chapter 4. Towards effective water governance for the sustainable management of the Water-Energy-Land-Food nexus in Korea. This chapter reviews current water governance arrangements in Korea and provides ways forward to advance basin-level governance and stakeholder engagement.

The Assessment and Recommendations present the main findings and set out recommendations and an Action Plan to help Korea make further progress towards aligning water policies, practices and governance arrangements for sustainable management of the WELF nexus.

The report takes stock of the insightful dialogue that took place between the OECD Secretariat and Korean stakeholders over 18 months, in particular, during a fact-finding mission (11-15 December 2017) and a policy seminar (9-10 May 2018). The report reflects comments and suggestions received at the meetings and on earlier drafts.

The process illustrates the mutual benefit of OECD National Policy Dialogues on Water, for the country, the OECD Secretariat and all OECD members; we all benefit from sharing international good practices and discussing in detail the practical challenges related to adjustment to national circumstances. This confirms the role of the OECD as a platform that can facilitate national and international initiatives that contribute to sustainable growth.

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