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The economics of water scarcity

This paper examines the current status of water availability, water demand, and influences from climate change in the European Union. It provides an overview of economic policy instruments to address water scarcity and manage water demand. Additionally, the paper explores policy options and considerations for addressing water scarcity and meeting Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives. These considerations include balancing demand management and supply augmentation, managing water scarcity through robust allocation regimes, and increasing the use of agro-environmental measures and practices. The paper also discusses the principles and features of effective allocation regimes, drivers and incentives for allocation reforms, the hierarchy and sequencing of water use, abstraction charges, ensuring return flows and ecological flows, and improving the coherence of WFD measures and climate change policies. This is the third in a sub-set of four working papers within the Environment Working Paper series destined to support the further implementation of the economic pillar of the Water Framework Directive. The four papers are best read in combination and provide lessons which are relevant beyond the European Union.

Published on May 24, 2024

In series:OECD Environment Working Papersview more titles