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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327453

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Options for decoupling economic growth from water use and water pollution: A report of the Water Working Group of the International Resource Panel Options for decoupling economic growth from water use and water pollution

Author
item Urama, Kevin - African Agricultural Technology Foundatin
item Bjornsen, Peter - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
item Riegels, Niels - University Of Denmark
item Vairavamoorthy, Kalanity - Loughborough University
item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff
item Kauppi, Lea - Finnish Forest Research Institute
item Mcneely, Jeffrey - International Union For Conservation Of Nature
item Mcglade, Jacqueline - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
item Eboh, Eric - University Of Nigeria
item Smith, Michael - Non ARS Employee
item Ntiacheampong, Ernest - Non ARS Employee
item Pengue, Walter - Non ARS Employee
item Siriban-manalag, Anna - De La Salle University
item Swilling, Mark - Stellenbosch University

Submitted to: United Nations Environment Programs (UNEP)
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/18/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Global demand for freshwater is increasing while supplies are becoming more limited and unpredictable. The good news is that unlike for many other resources, the rate of water resource use is increasing more slowly than economic growth. However, it is still projected that by 2030 there will be a 40% gap between water supply and water demand if current trends in water development and management continue. This report describes six strategies that could reduce this gap without limiting economic growth: (1) Invest more in research and development of technological tools designed to increase water use efficiency; (2) Use quantitative analyses to guide development and application of policies to reduce water demand and re-allocate water between sectors and users based on greatest net benefit to society; (3) Consider options to reflect the full cost of water in order to promote increased efficiency and demand reduction (#1-2); (4) Support #3 by (a) strengthening research into the value of ecosystem services , (b)documenting the efficiency and effectiveness of different measures, and (c) assessing communicating the amount of water required to produce various products (e.g. food, oil and gas, metals, etc...) so that we know better how international trade patterns could be used to support decoupling where it is most needed.

Technical Abstract: Global trends have pointed to a relative decoupling of water – that is, the rate of water resource use is increasing at a rate slower than that of economic growth. Despite this progress at the global level, it is projected that by 2030 there will be a 40% gap between water supply and water demand if current trends in water development and management continue (Water Resources Group, 2009). Increases in water withdrawal and consumption are driven by anthropogenic factors, including population and economic growth; changing consumption patterns due to increases in standards of living globally; macroeconomic processes such as trade globalization; and food and energy security policies. This report proposes six strategies to enable taking full advantage of the potential benefits of decoupling economic growth from water uses and water pollution: (1) Invest more in research and development concerning improved and additional technological tools for water-use efficiency gains; (2) Consider and apply policy measures to curb water demand and re-allocate water between sectors and users according to where water produces goods and services most beneficial to society; (3) Consider ways to internalize current externalities; (4) Strengthen research into the value of ecosystem services in order to better integrate those value elements into the economic growth equation; (5) Do more to document the efficiency and effectiveness of different measures; (6) Do more to assess and communicate virtual water contents, water footprints and related impacts so that we know better how international trade patterns could be used to support decoupling where it is most needed.