OECD warning over rising water security risks

8th October 2013

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Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Water ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Central government



Governments that fail to manage water risks will jeopardise growing populations and cities, economic growth and food or energy security, claims new research from the OECD

The Paris-based organisation says that by 2050 more than 40% of the world’s population will live under severe water stress and almost 20% could be exposed to floods.

It calculates that the economic value of assets at risk from floods will reach $45 trillion by the middle of the century. Moreover, there is increasing risk of water pollution, which is adding to uncertainty about future availability.

Nearly all of the 34 OECD member countries forecast rising water risks due to climate change, with extreme events – floods and/or droughts – cited as a primary concern by 32 states. About half the countries surveyed noted that climate change impacts on water supply and sanitation are a key concern, with a similar number highlighting concerns about the impacts on water quality.

“We have been forewarned – there is no doubt these risks are increasing. Instead of just reacting to water crises, governments must assess, target and manage water risks proactively,” said OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, meanwhile, has published new guidance on building the business case for improving water management.

Water valuation: building the business case aims to demonstrate the financial benefits for companies in engaging with water valuation and is supported by a review of 21 studies that illustrate how and why different firms have carried out water valuation.

Among the examples is the questionnaire used by Yorkshire Water to determine how much people are willing to pay for improved water provision.


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