Recognizing, measuring and expressing the worth of water, and incorporating it into decision-making, are fundamental to achieving sustainable and equitable water resource management as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, according to the report.
“All too often, the value of water, or its full suite of multiple values, is not prominent in decision-making at all,” the report, which was compiled by UNESCO, said.
The value of water to society is underpinned by infrastructure built for storing or moving it, according to the report, which calls for more investment into water management. However, some infrastructure projects represent vanity projects and are ultimately ineffective, the report found.
Waste and pollution of water present additional challenges, the UN said.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has hit people living in settlements or slums hardest, the authors wrote. Globally, more than three billion people and two out of five health care facilities lack adequate access to handwashing facilities – key in preventing the spread of illnesses like Covid-19.
The report called water “a basic human need, required for drinking and to support sanitation and hygiene, sustaining life and health.”
The authors also called for new ways of looking at the value of water and a more holistic approach of dealing with it: “Water clearly has value. In some perspectives the value of water is infinite, since life does not exist without it and there is no replacement for it.”