Water has value as a source of life for people; the plants and animals that make up our ecological and agricultural environments; and as a pecuniary resource for the maintenance of the standard of living that we expect in today’s world.  It also can provide value as a bridge between conflicting states and a builder of peace, and conversely, a huge cost when it is abused through pollution, war and poor water management or climate-driven disasters. Dealing with this balance of needs and rights, and considering the true value of this precious element, is a starting point for better management of water in the long run.

The UN-Water topic for 2021 will be on Valuing Water – a broad topic that can be interpreted in very different forms, depending on your point of view.  The World Water Development Report[1] represents the UN-Water view of how this topic can be used to support the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

So how do you tackle such a controversial and technically complex topic in a 150 – page digestible manual, that provides guidance to policy makers around the world?

The answer is, with a massive amount of work from a large team at UNESCO, plus a 30-strong team of contributors from UN-Water members and partners over the next 16 months. The collective knowledge needs to be formatted in a way that provides simplicity to a complicated subject and creates a more responsible attitude towards stewardship and use of water resources around the globe.

The road to this report started last week in Perugia, in a sleepy medieval Italian town, known best for its heritage and ancient walls, but also as a seat of learning through the University grounds. WaterLex joined the gang of experts in water measurement, management, governance and technical water solutions to brainstorm the creation of this report.  The product will hopefully be a true guidance document for governments and policy makers around the world to start taking our water values seriously – but we have to wait until World Water Day in March 2021 to see the final product.


[1] WaterLex supports the development of the UNESCO WWAP driven World Water Development Report, an annual publication that supports the annual UN-Water theme.  This report draws upon the collective know-how of the UN-Water group of UN agencies, including UN-Water partners such as WaterLex as contributors.