News.Mar 23, 2021

Valuing water is key to improved water governance

The 2021 UN World Water Development report argues that our inability to value water may be the leading cause behind waste and mismanagement. SIWI and UNDP experts are among the contributors to the report, which was launched on World Water Day, 22 March.


For anyone with an interest in water, the annual UN World Water Development Report is a must-read to follow emerging trends. The flagship report of UN-Water is produced by UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Programme and builds on contributions from water experts from leading international organizations.

The 2021 edition, Valuing Water, explores different aspect of how we understand and value water an essential aspect of water governance decision-making. SIWI experts David Hebart-Coleman, Dr Martina Klimes and Elizabeth Yaari contributed to various chapters, including about cultural values and a section on valuing water for peace on behalf of the UNESCO Category II International Centre for Water Cooperation hosted by SIWI.

The WGF also supported the chapter outlining ‘multi-value approaches in water governance,’ led by Dr Marianne Kjellén, UNDP, and others. This chapter puts forward various approaches for more effectively including different perspectives – and hence values – regarding water into governance and management processes. The simple answer is participation, but the way that it is carried through is what matters.

Indeed, a key message of the whole report is that water governance needs to recognize water’s multiple values; cultural, social, economic, ecological, and more. The report also calls for more robust measurement and valuation methods to promote well-informed decision-making and help resolve trade-offs relating to conflicting water uses.

Read the report