The Value of Water and Its Essential Role in Supporting Sustainable Development

While everyone recognizes that water is “essential to all life”, including humans, it is often taken for granted, at least by those who have easy and affordable access to a safe and abundant water supply. As a result, it is frequently misused, polluted or wasted. Giving “value” to water is a way to better recognize its importance—to us as individuals, but also to societies and the environment from which it comes and to which ultimately returns.

But what does “value” mean in this context? What is water “worth”? These are the main questions addressed in the 2021 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR 2021).1

The current status of water resources highlights the need for improved water resources management. Recognizing, measuring and expressing water’s worth, and incorporating it into decision-making, are fundamental to achieving sustainable and equitable water resources management and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.