Valuing Water is the theme of the 29th World Water Day this year. Valuing Water and Enabling Change also happened to be the theme of the Annual Report of the World Economic Forum’s 2030 Water Resources Group (now hosted by the World Bank) last year.

Clearly, no one who ever had to go without a glass of water for a few hours on a hot summer day needs to be told how invaluable water is. In fact, we all know that water is essential for life itself. There is the truism water is life! So, why this emphasis on “valuing” water?

According to the World Water Day website, “The value of water is about much more than its price — water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.” The Special Rapporteur on Right to Water is even more clear: “Beyond the issues of pricing, this topic includes the environmental, social and cultural value people place on water. For instance, in daily life, water can mean health, hygiene, dignity and productivity. In cultural, religious and spiritual places, water can mean a connection with creation or community. And in natural spaces, water can mean peace and preservation. Water means different things to different people in different settings.”

However, policy makers tend to focus only on the economic value of water, almost forgetting all else. The idea of treating water as an economic good is not that old. It was first articulated in 1992 at the International Conference on Water and Environment (ICWE), as one of the four Dublin principles, which said:..

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Shiney Varghese, water, institute for agriculture and trade policy,