New research on water security and sustainable growth presented to high level panel at Singapore International Water Week

On 2 June, Professor Jim Hall stressed the importance of water security to economic growth at a high level panel discussion at Singapore International Water Week, chaired by Mr. Angel Gurria, Secretary-General, OECD, and Dr. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Chair, Global Water Partnership.

The panel discussion was part of a UN Secretary-Generals’ Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) meeting and briefed the Board on the progress of the GWP/OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth.

The session was also attended by high level participants such as Chen Lei (Minister of Water Resources, China) and Melanie Schultz (Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Netherlands).

Mr Gurria provided an overview of the Global Dialogue, which aims to improve understanding of the linkages between water security and economic growth and to highlight the different development pathways that countries can follow to improve their water security. The Global Dialogue consists of a series of high level panel discussions, a Task Force of experts producing new knowledge on the issue, and a series of country consultations.

Dr Claudia Sadoff (World Bank) and Professor Jim Hall (Oxford University) presented the ongoing work and preliminary results of the Task Force, which they chair together with Professor David Grey (Oxford University).

The Task Force brings together an international team of economists, scientists, engineers and policy experts to provide new evidence on the relationship between water security and sustainable growth. By analysing the risks of water security and the constraints they impose on growth, the Task Force aims to promote global action to address water-related risks.

Hall and Sadoff presented research from a global analysis which for the first time demonstrates the significant impact of mean annual runoff and runoff extremes on a country’s economic growth. This confirms that high levels of water variability and unpredictability inhibit growth and helps make the case for investment in water security.

The presentation included a series of global maps which using new evidence from global datasets and models show where the water-related risks are located in the world. Risks fall into four categories: droughts, water scarcity and high variability; floods; inadequate water supply and sanitation; and harmful impacts on the environment.

The Task Force research will also provide new insights about responding to water insecurity, through analysing and comparing case studies of cities, aquifers and river basins, and illustrating pathways to achieving a tolerable level of water-related risks to growth.

Related links

The GWP-OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth