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Water Challenges in XXI Century:

Role of Economics, Statistics and Finance

Water security faces significant challenges due to increasing demands, environmental degradation, climate change and variability.  Vulnerability to these threats depends on the resiliency of water systems and infrastructure. A major policy question today is what type of water management and policy is required to increase resiliency and reduce society’s vulnerability to increasing threats. In a maturing water economy nonstructural or institutional options for solving water problems receive increasing attention. In particular, resource allocation and valuation issues move to the forefront of economic inquiry

Developing a better understanding of the economic value of water security is a priority.  A major source of water management problems is the fact that water resources have a high value which has not been fully considered by all water users and explicitly accounted for in water policies, hindering development of effective strategies for solving the water crisis.  Thus, without improved signaling on the true value of water (taking into account e.g. scarcity, pollution, access and users), sustainable development may not materialize and ecosystems quality may be permanently damaged.

Worldwide, urban cities face a range of dynamic pressures due to urbanization, growing water scarcity, decreasing water quality, and increasing frequency of extreme events. Under this context, current models of urban water and sanitation management and infrastructure are no longer sufficient to insure adequate and sustainable water supply sanitation.

The 2015 World Economic Forum identified water as one of the major financial risks for businesses and growth. A major challenge is how to engage public finance so as to attract additional funding from other sources such as micro credit, multilateral banks, private sector and non-profit donor funds. The financing gap in water has not only been about insufficient finance but also about insufficiently well packaged financing opportunities.  This is due to the traditional approach where water and finance are treated independently. Conventional and new funding sources (such as climate finance, philanthropy and others), need to be explored.

The 4th International Conference on Water Economics, Statistics, and Finance seeks to contribute to the above issues and challenges from an economics, statistical, and financial framework. The conference is aimed at specialists interested in economics, statistics, and financing of water issues. It will also offer an interdisciplinary forum for researchers, practitioners, regulators, policymakers, and educators to present and discuss the leading challenges in water management, supply and sanitation, finance and policy, as well as debate on recent innovations, practical challenges encountered and their adopted solutions. 

It will provide a forum to debate, share experiences, and present innovations on water challenges such as:

1.    Water resources management: The natural water cycle has long been characterized by substantial variability, which plays a large role in how modern water systems are managed. Climate change introduces even greater uncertainty raising questions about decision-making frameworks that are appropriate.

2.    Water governance, regulation, and institutional frameworks: It is essential to identify good practices and develop practical tools to assist different levels of governments and other stakeholders to engage effective, fair and sustainable water policies. Which are the set of rules, practices, and processes through which water resources management decisions should be taken, implemented, and monitored?

3.    Water statistics and data collection methods: Why is it so difficult to get good international water statistics, water demand and supply estimation?

4.    Urban water supply and sanitation: How urban water and sanitation utilities are financed, which are their various water tariff structures, in which way do they insure accessibility, how to assess their performance, and how they are facing increasing vulnerabilities, among others. Water utilities also face a social crisis due to the increase of the cost of treating, distributing water and cleaning wastewater, which result in a reduced affordability and financial crisis. An IWRM approach when applied in an urban context requires a greater understanding of water economics and finance. 

5.    Rural water supply and sanitation: Given the adoption of access to water as a human right, it is no longer sufficient to exclusively address access, but rather focus on sustainable water supply in quantity, quality, accessibility and reliability.  How can we move away from traditional rural supply approaches focused on infrastructure provision towards the supply of a reliable service that lasts indefinitely?


6. Agricultural water management: How to meet ever-rising demand for food while at the same time increasing farmer incomes, reducing poverty, and protecting the environment are the main challenges facing agricultural water management. Under this context, there is little discussion about the instruments available for improving agricultural water productivity, and which interventions may be suitable and feasible in a particular situation.

7.    Water pricing schemes: It is essential to consider the use of economic instruments to allocate water resources, manage demand, reduce pollution discharges, finance water service costs and incentivize environmentally positive actions (positive externalities). 

Participants will have the opportunity to take part in a forum to debate on these important issues, share experiences and knowledge covering the entire water cycle, ultimately influencing major policy decisions.  It will convene water practitioners, policy makers, regulators, and researchers, to exchange and share their experiences and research results about all aspects of Water Economics, Statistics, and Finance.