Valuing water for sustainable development

Outlines 4 steps toward better valuation and management and examines recent advances in each of these areas


Achieving universal, safely managed water and sanitation services by 2030, as envisioned by the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, is projected to require capital expenditures of US$ 114 billion per year. Investment on that scale, along with accompanying policy reforms, can be motivated by a growing appreciation of the value of water. Yet our ability to value water, and incorporate these values into water governance, is inadequate. Newly recognized cascading negative impacts of water scarcity, pollution, and flooding underscore the need to change the way we value water. With the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water having launched the Valuing Water Initiative in 2017 to chart principles and pathways for valuing water, there is a global opportunity to rethink the value of water.

The authors outline 4 steps toward better valuation and management, examine recent advances in each of these areas, and argue that these 4 steps must be integrated to overcome the barriers that have stymied past efforts.

This work is an output from the REACH Improving Water Security for the Poor programme


Dustin E. Garrick, Jim W. Hall, Andrew Dobson, Richard Damania, R. Quentin Grafton, Robert Hope, Cameron Hepburn, Rosalind Bark, Frederick Boltz, Lucia De Stefano, Erin O’Donnell, Nathanial Matthews and Alex Money. Valuing Water for Sustainable Development, Science, 358 (6366), 1003-1005

Valuing water for sustainable development

Published 1 November 2017