Without action, global demand for water could outstrip supply by up to 40 percent by 2030. Rapid population growth and economic development, particularly in emerging markets, will increase the need for food and energy and accelerate industrialization and urbanization, driving a corresponding increase in the need for water. At the same time, many scientists warn that temperatures may rise around the world, potentially increasing water scarcity. The climate may also become less predictable, possibly compounding the challenge by increasing volatility in the water supply.
As many countries already know firsthand, limited and uncertain access to water can jeopardize economic growth and social well-being. Given the potential impact of shortfalls, ensuring access to water is rapidly becoming a challenge that could define our times.
Some countries have already developed innovative approaches to managing water under extreme conditions, including Australia, Singapore, and Israel. “Transforming water economies” examines the experience of these and other countries, drawing lessons into a framework—the “ICE framework”—that governments can use as they transform their water sectors. The framework is organized into three categories:
- Inform: calculate a dynamic water gap and develop a cost curve to prioritize improvement opportunities by effectiveness and efficiency
- Choose: evaluate a set of strategies to close the water gap, accounting for their impact on key economic- and social-development objectives
- Execute: establish the institutional mechanisms (national, regional, and local) necessary to guide program and policy implementation
Countries that incorporate these principles into their water strategies can accelerate their progress toward greater water security and improve the economics of water-dependent sectors even in times of drought.