World Water Day 2021: Valuing Water

Published: 17 Mar 2021
Type: News

New Delhi/ Geneva, 17 March:  Water scarcity affects two-thirds of the world’s population. Competing demands for water continue to rise (from agriculture, households, energy generation, industrial use, ecosystems, etc.) and the effects of climate change are exacerbating the challenges associated with water quality and availability.  Water is a finite and non-substitutable resource. As the foundation of life, societies and economies, it carries multiple values and benefits. But unlike most other natural resources, it has proven extremely difficult to determine its true ‘value’.

The theme for this year’s UN World Water Day is valuing water, about what water means to people, its true value and how we can better protect this vital resource.

Most societies undervalue and under-price water. The true cost of water does not reflect its true value, which leads to overexploitation of the resource. The appropriate valuation of water drives demand-side management and improves resource use efficiency.  Valuing water means recognizing and considering all the benefits provided by water – including economic, social and ecological dimensions. It has a significant potential to trigger systemic change, with water valuation driving decision-making that protects freshwater sources and ensuring water allocation reaches its most productive, equitable and environmentally sustainable use and consumption.

Water valuation helps businesses understand their water impacts and dependencies, eventually informing their water stewardship approaches and leading to the internalization of water-related externalities. Businesses must value water to improve financial performance, ensure business continuity and maintain their social license to operate.

To mark World Water Day on 22 March, WBCSD, with its members and partners, are participating in and organizing events and releasing new resources that highlight the critical role of business in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6:

  • WBCSD is a contributing author for the 2021 World Water Development Report (WWDR), which includes several case studies from WBCSD members. WWDR is the flagship annual report from UN-Water targeted at decision-makers to formulate and implement sustainable water policies. The report will be launched on 22 March and will be available for download here.
  • We have published a series of case studies on Valuing water. The case studies showcase examples from a cross-section of WBCSD’s membership on how they value water. They highlight the various dimensions of valuing water and how businesses integrate it into their strategy, operations and decision making
  • WBCSD is hosting a webinar "Business Action on Valuing Water” at 9 am CET on March 22nd. The webinar is part of the We Value Nature 10-day challenge and will bring together leading businesses to share their strategies and approaches to valuing water. The discussions will help participants appreciate the business case and learn about the sector-specific issues and perspectives to valuing water. Register to attend the webinar here 
  • WBCSD is proud to host the 50L Home Coalition, a multi-stakeholder platform to address two of the most pressing global challenges:  water security and climate change. Launched in October 2020, 50L Home will bring together private and public organizations, municipal governments, academics and NGOs.  50L Home was invited to participate on the second W12+ Exchange Accelerator event: Driving Change for Water Security during COVID-19 which will take place on 18 March. In the event, panellists will discuss the complexities of scaling solutions; how to balance replicability with locally relevant solutions; and the specific challenges of policy and financing in times of crisis such as the pandemic. Register here.
  • Braulio Eduardo Morera, Director of 50L Home Coalition will deliver the keynote ‘Living with 50 litres per day’ at London’s water innovation and technology WET Network event on World Water Day. Wet Networks is jointly convened by Arup and UK’s Water Research Centre. Register here for the event.


WBCSD is also a partner in the Valuing Water Initiative representing the voice of business in this multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to rethink how we understand, value and manage water as a precious global resource.

Read our Business Guide to Water Valuation for a business-specific guidance on the main concepts and techniques associated with water valuation.

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