How do we determine the value of water? Water made the Earth unique in the known universe. Life started in it, and it sustains life. In that sense, water is priceless. But we do need to answer the question “how valuable is water”, for sustainable development.
Value of a commodity increases when it becomes rare. Water, or fresh water, is in fact becoming scarcer as we humans misuse the available fresh water like there is no end to it. According to assessments, the world will face a global water deficit of 40% by 2030. Are we prepared to reverse the trend?
It may be possible to measure and determine the value of water in certain situations; However, water commands multiple values in our society. Let us see few of the ways in which the value of water is determined.
Agriculture uses a major share of world’s freshwater. In addition to the direct economic value we can calculate by the price of produce, value of water is also into alleviating poverty and in turn closing gender gap.
Industries require continuous supply of fresh water for its functioning.
Hydroelectric power generation depends on water. Water is also required many other types of energy generation, and the produced energy is required in maintaining and transporting water for other uses.
Our households and settlements use water for drinking, washing and sanitization. Access to water ensures a life of dignity and equality.
Water and its sources, be it rivers, lakes or the seas, have always played a major role in the cultural and religious beliefs of human from time immemorial. Rivers have been sacred for tribes, be it the Ganges or Nile or the Whanganui.
According to Water Development Report 2021 Recognizing, measuring and expressing the worth of water and incorporating it into decision-making are fundamental to achieving sustainable and equitable water resources management. As per the UN’s high level panel on principles of valuing water, these should be followed when determining the value of water.
We will further see how determining the value of water leads us to better measurement and management.