You are here: Home Knowledge Base Environment Preparing for the Blue Revolution Solutions Establish transitional arrangements (rather than sudden policy shifts) to achieve efficiency and sustainability in water management.These arrangements must pay careful attention to reform sequencing; for example, investment must follow entitlement, ...
Symposium 2009

Solution for Preparing for the Blue Revolution

The Challenge

Water shortages are cropping up around the world – from Australia to South Africa, from Brazil to the Sahel. Many of the world’s mightiest rivers run dry before reaching the sea. Perhaps half th ...

Water shortages are cropping up around the world – from Australia to South Africa, from Brazil to the Sahel. Many of the world’s mightiest rivers run dry before reaching the sea. Perhaps half the world’s wetlands have been damaged or destroyed in the past century as salt water has displaced fresh water. These facts are striking, in view of the fact that the world’s population withdraws less than a tenth of the water that falls to the ground and that – unlike our fossil fuels – the world’s water supplies cannot be used up.

Establish transitional arrangements (rather than sudden policy shifts) to achieve efficiency and sustainability in water management.These arrangements must pay careful attention to reform sequencing; for example, investment must follow entitlement, allocation, and trading arrangements; and pricing must follow metering.

It is time to put in place a series of transitional arrangements—step by step— that will allow markets to send proper price signals to all involved in the use of water for production, for living and for processing waste without degrading the environmental processes. Well-designed arrangements allow change in a way that is consistent with a well-established set of hydrological, economic, and social principles nested within a set of absolute environmental constraints.

The transitional pathways will need to pay careful attention to the sequencing of reform. Practical policy reforms have to occur in the right order.

For example, investment needs to follow the development of robust entitlement, allocation, and trading arrangements. Metering systems need to be put in place before prices can be set. Marginal costs need to be understood to be addressed with technical options and through demand management measures and additional supply. Arrangements that promote investment security and reward innovation need to be in place before water suppliers, water users, and communities can be expected to respond. And subsidies have to be made transparent before they can be phased out.

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