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UN World Water Development Report 2021

This report presents a number of methodologies and approaches to valuing water across different use sectors and shows how these tools have been applied to improve water management.

Primary Functions

  • Learn about current methodologies and approaches to the valuation of water and how these tools have been applied to improve water management.
  • Understand how valuation can potentially lead to better decision-making in terms of financing, governance, and knowledge and capacity-building.

Detailed Description


The current status of water resources highlights the need for improved water resources management. Recognizing, measuring and expressing water’s worth, and incorporating it into decision-making, are fundamental to achieving sustainable and equitable water resources management and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Those who control how water is valued control how it is used. Values are a central aspect of power and equity in water resources governance. The failure to fully value water in all its different uses is considered a root cause, or a symptom, of the political neglect of water and its mismanagement. All too often, the value of water, or its full suite of multiple values, is not prominent in decision-making at all.

Whilst the term ‘value’ and the process of ‘valuation’ are well defined, there are several different views and perspectives of what ‘value’ specifically means to various user groups and stakeholders. There are also different methods for calculating value and different metrics to express it.

This report groups current methodologies and approaches to the valuation of water into five interrelated perspectives: valuing water sources, in situ water resources and ecosystems; valuing water infrastructure for water storage, use, reuse or supply augmentation; valuing water services, mainly drinking water, sanitation and related human health aspects; valuing water as an input to production and socio-economic activity, such as food and agriculture, energy and industry, business and employment; and other sociocultural values of water, including recreational, cultural and spiritual attributes. These are complemented with experiences from different global regions; opportunities to reconcile multiple values of water through more integrated and holistic approaches to governance; approaches to financing; and methods to address knowledge, research and capacity needs.

Additional information




Topics & SDGs

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