Environment in emerging and transition economies

The water challenge: OECD's response


The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction documents some of the consequences of having too much, too little, or too polluted water. Subsequent work has focused on managing water scarcity, water quality, and water-related disasters. It has identified governance and finance as essential enabling conditions. Some of the work focuses on water for agriculture or cities. Ministers from OECD’s 34 member countries welcomed, on 4 June 2015, the new OECD Principles on Water Governance, which set standards for more effective, efficient and inclusive design and implementation of water policies, and encouraged governments to put them into action.

The OECD is endeavouring to capture policy recommendations that derive from its past and recent work on water in a single, consistent and action-oriented policy paper. This endeavour is expected to come to fruition at the end of 2016. 

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  • New publication release Water Governance in Cities | 11 February 2016

  • The OECD has been invited to be a Key Collaborating Partner for the organisation of the 2016 Stockholm World Water Week, advising and facilitating on the content and overall set-up of the event. The overarching theme of the 2016 Stockholm World Water Week will be water and sustainable growth. 

  • The OECD continues work on water finance. The Roundtable on Water Finance, a joint initiative with the World Water Council and the Netherlands, ambitions to identify barriers to further investment in the water sector and propose ways forward. The Roundtable is a multi-year endeavour, which aims to deliver concrete outcomes at the World Water Forum 8 in March 2018 in Brasilia. Recent related publications include:

    - A report by the OECD/Global Water Partnership Task Force on Water Security and Sustainable Growth ‘Securing Water, Sustaining -Growth’ and a Policy Statement on ‘Water Security for Sustainable Economic Growth’. 

    - A report on ‘Water: Fit to Finance?: Catalyzing National Growth through Investment in Water Security’, in partnership with the World Water Council.
    Global Water Governance – speech by OECD Secretary-General for UNSGAB’s meeting,
New York, November 2015







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Blogs, articles & speeches


  • Water, like air and food, is our life support. It covers about 70% of the surface of our planet. But only 2.5% of it is fresh water, the rest being ocean, with a small fraction of that being available as drinking water. As a fragile resource, water must be nurtured with investment, management and care. From oceans and vaste rivers to the sring in the garden, we must safeguard our water as a source of well-being, prosperity and progress... We must turn water into a flow of new opportunities for green, inclusive, sustainable growth, OECD Secretary-General.

  • OECD Observer articles - Environment & resources: water

  • OECD Observer crosswords



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