Climate change and rising demand are making it harder to meet the world’s water needs. At World Water Week, the OECD will join experts, political leaders and civil society to look at how we can better manage this vital resource.
Water is a powerful element – essential for sustaining life but also capable of causing great destruction. As a result, governments face the dual challenge of protecting water supplies while safeguarding against the risk of natural disaster.
It’s not an easy task. 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; and major investment is required to maintain and improve existing water infrastructure.
The need to reform water policies is as urgent as ever. According to the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050, global water needs are projected to increase by some 55% due to growing demand from manufacturing, thermal electricity generation and domestic users. As a result, more than 40% of the world’s population is projected to live under severe water stress by 2050. At the same time, nearly 20% will be exposed to flood risks.
OECD work on Water provides governments with practical advice and policy tools to pursue urgent reform in their water sectors, and help align the world to a more sustainable path.
- Cities, farmers, industries, energy suppliers, and ecosystems are increasingly competing for water. Without proper management, the financial, health and environmental costs will be high. – OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050
- Water security is about establishing an acceptable level of water risk by weighing the costs of improving water security against the expected benefits. – Water Security for Better Lives
- Climate change can impact water supply, sanitation and provoke natural disasters. Countries should act on the growing evidence base to better manage these risks. – Water and Climate Change Adaptation
- To address global water challenges, governments can improve water sector financing; reform governance and institutional arrangements; and promote coherence between water policies and other sectors of the economy. – Meeting the Water Reform Challenge
- Improving water quality is consistently ranked as a top environmental concern in OECD public opinion surveys. Here’s how to do it. – Water Quality and Agriculture
- There is enough water on Earth for all, even in areas that suffer temporary shortages. Managing water for all is not only a question of resources availability and money, but a matter of good governance. – Water Governance in OECD Countries