As we consider the relationship between water risk, value and river basins, it is critical that we begin to appreciate the value that rivers provide. Traditionally, rivers have been primarily valued as sources of water for irrigation and hydropower. However, rivers provide a broader set of services that deliver immense benefits to people, economies and nature, which include, but exceed, the value of the water they carry. WWF Valuing Rivers Report (2018) outlines how river systems are critical not only to risk mitigation but for value creation.
The global map depicts the overlay of physical water risk from the Water Risk Filter (WRF, 2018) with a geographically distributed measure of Gross Domestic Product (national GDP that is spatially distributed based on location of population and economic activity) from Kummu et al. (2018). Physical water risk in the WRF includes numerous indicators that encompass many of the ways that the hidden values of rivers can affect economies, including scarcity, droughts, floods, and threats to water quality and freshwater ecosystems.