International UN-Water Conference. Water in the Green Economy in Practice: Towards Rio+20. 3-5 October 2011

Session 1: Economic incentives in water management to support change towards green growth

Gérard Bonnis"If we do not act now, more than 40% of the world population will live in river basins subject to severe water stress by 2050, according to our projections."
Gérard Bonnis
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Convener: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Date: 3 October 2011
Time: 11:30 – 13:30
Place: Plenary Room

Speakers and panelists

  • Overview of the session: Mr. Gerard Bonnis, Principal Administrator, Environmental Performance and Information Division, OECD
  • Discussion with panelists:
    Case 1. Israel: Dr. Sinaia Netanyahu, Ministry of Environmental Protection
    Case 2. Australia: Dr. James Horne.
    Case 3. South Africa: Dr. Thinus Basson.

Overview of the tool

This overview paper PDF document introduces economic incentives in water management and explains how they can act as a tool for change in supporting the transition to a green economy. It reflects on challenges faced, how the tool helps overcome the challenges, and lessons learnt from implementation.

Cases in the Plenary

  • Case 1: Water pricing and command and control for water demand management in cities and agriculture in Israel PDF document
    This case describes water pricing as an approach to manage water demand in Israel. Water is metered everywhere and everyone has to pay. Water is managed by the Water Authority, under the Ministry of Infrastructure. It demonstrates that the Israeli experience in conserving water is a success, although challenges also exist such as implementation problems with pricing, and decisions at times depend on other social and political goals. Israel has increased prices by 40% this year. Agriculture has historically used around 70% of Israeli water. In recent years, the agricultural sector has relied more on recycled and saline water sources for irrigation, accounting for about 50% of total water demand for irrigation.

Interviewing James Horne, Member of the Australian Water Information Advisory Committee
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  • Case 2: Trading and step by step legal reform on water use rights in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia PDF document
    This case highlights trading of water use right to provide opportunities for water resources to be allocated between competing uses, and secured for human consumption, irrigated agriculture and the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. ). It is estimated in 2007/8 in the southern Murray-Darling Basin that over 40% of the available water was traded.
  • Case 3: Subsidies for water infrastructures as an engine of growth in South Africa PDF document
    This case focuses on the use of subsidies for key infrastructures as an important tool to realize the potential of water as an engine of growth in South Africa. It concludes that infrastructure development has enabled South Africans to manage the water resources, both by storing water during the wet season for use during the dry and by transporting it from further afield. Today the system supports around 60% of the country's economy and 20 million people, 40% of the population.

Case studies table

This table PDF document includes cases presented during the conference as well as additional cases which illustrate successful implementation of the tool. These will contribute to the preparation of input for the Rio+20 conference.