Water Goals Have Big Costs and Bigger Returns

Written by Corinne Schuster-Wallace of the United Nations University (UNU), writing on the Our World blog of the UNU.

“Meeting anticipated world water goals requires an annual investment estimated at US$840 billion to US$1.8 trillion over the next 20 years, but could also deliver more than US$3 trillion annually in economic, environmental and social benefits, according to a newly published study.

The research assembles and integrates a large volume of available data and previously estimated costs of meeting key global water challenges, including universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation, increased irrigation for food production and renewable energy production.

It is the first comprehensive, evidence-based analysis of options for integrating water into the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will define the international development agenda after the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.

The report, Catalyzing Water for Sustainable Development and Growth, was produced by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and the UN Office of Sustainable Development, in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Estimates of the global expense to implement a comprehensive a post-2015 agenda to provide water for sustainable development and economic growth range between US US$840 billion to US$1.8 trillion per year over 20 years, spread across both developed and developing countries.”

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