Water as a driver for sustainable growth

Monday 29 August | 14.00-15.30 | Room: L9
Photo: Keng Po Leung/ Mostphotos.com

Water for Growth

Today, the challenge of water security is global, and growing. In this session we will explore the implications of water security for sustainable growth and well-being. How much does a country’s natural water endowment, in terms of water availability, quality, and variability affect growth? More than one out of three natural disasters is water-related; how do these risks affect people and economies and how can we reduce vulnerability to these water-related risks ? What are the benefits of investment in infrastructure, institutions and information for improved water security? Is adequate planning and investment being undertaken to account for climate change impacts and to manage water resources to enable growth?  What examples do we have of basins, cities or countries who have strategically invested in water security for sustainable growth? What are the challenges and opportunities of doing so? Join us for a vibrant discussion on this these questions and many more.

During the seminar posters will be presented. Please find them online under the resources tab.


Water for Growth
Chair: Louise Karlberg, Stockholm Environment Institute

14:00     Welcome
              Louise Karlberg, Stockholm Environment Institute

14:05     Setting the Scene
              Prof. Jim Hall, University of Oxford

14:20     Managing Water Resources to Reduce Climate Loss and
              Nandan Mukherjee, University of Dundee

14:30     Many Players, One River: A Hydro-economic Model for the
              Dr. Claudia Casarotto, Innovations for Poverty Action

14:40     Food Corridors: Exploring the Food, Water, Energy and
              Climate Nexus
              Dr. Masoud Negahban-Azar, University of Maryland

14:50     Q&A

15:20     Impact of SDG's on Sustainable Development in the MEANA
              Dr. Luay Froukh, Jordanian Wastewater and Solidwaste Reuse

15:22     Enhancing water availability for livelihood improvement in
              Karamoja region, Uganda
              Gerald  KairuIsiko, GWP

15:24     Optimal water allocation for rainfed agriculture and livelihoods
              in Ethiopia
              Ms. Catherine Grasham, University of East Anglia


Water and growth are tightly interconnected. As economies and populations grow, so will the assets, economic activities and populations facing water-related risks such as service disruptions, drought, flood and contamination, while the pressure on water resources increase simultaneously. Accounting for the interconnectedness between water and growth will be imperative as we plan to invest in a more sustainable future.

Water can be a friend and a foe for Growth. The presence of water has been a key element for growth for civilizations throughout history. It is a resource instrumental for growing agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as for maintaining the livelihood of communities. At the same time, three out of four natural disasters in the world are water related. The annual price tag associated with flood damage to property has been estimated to reach US$120 billion, on average, whilst the cost of inaction has been estimated to be around US$ 500 billion per year. Improved water management has the potential to reduce loss and damage and build resilience to water-related natural disasters, as well as and underpinning economic growth through improved allocation, productivity and trade. Investment in information, infrastructure, and institutions will be a precursor for further sustainable growth.

Growth can be friend and a foe for Water. Growth provides critical resources and incentives to achieve water security, mitigate water-related risks and utilize water resources sustainably. It also provides opportunities for investing in sustainable water resources management. At the same time, there are numerous examples of negative impacts on water resources related to growth. Therefore, development pathways should factor in water security to avoid future liabilities at higher cost.

As the global community moves towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particular attention needs to be given to the interactions between SDG 6 (Water) and SDG 8 (Economic Growth). Meeting these targets will sometimes generate synergistic effects between the goals, while others might create unintended competition. For example, providing more efficient water technologies would create a positive impact on farmers’ economic wellbeing whilst the outcome on water resources is less certain. This calls for a holistic approach to the implementation of the SDG’s.

Moving forward, the challenge will be in ensuring that economies grow sustainably without jeopardizing water security and its elements, which in turn play a role in ensuring continued growth.  An understanding of the trade-offs associated with different growth pathways will play an important role in avoiding those challenges. Even though water issues are present across scales, and are interconnected with different economic sectors, this resource and its solutions are very local.

Long-term infrastructural investments are needed. The best investments combine investment in water infrastructure, institutions and information, and are sequenced along strategic pathways.   Informed dialogue among stakeholders will be a key in guiding the joint management of water and other resources for economic growth. Continued dialogue and coordinated efforts among funding agencies and recipient communities are encouraged in order to bridge gaps in expectations from both sides.