“The only way water reform will be successful,” warned OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría; “is if policy combines sustainable financing, effective governance and coherence. Without major policy changes, we risk high costs to economic growth, human health, and the environment.” This is the takeaway message from the latest OECD synthesis report, Meeting the Water Reform Challenge, that was released at the World Water Forum on Tuesday. Also showcased was the chapter on the outlook for water from the upcoming OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction, where water is a major focus. The chapter on water and water reform was launched in Marseille at the World Water Forum on Tuesday and takes stock of what the next four decades will bring to a world that already has seven billion people on it.
Oikos Student Reporters Eva Papadimas and Aishwarya Nair got a chance to interview the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Angel Gurría, on the opening day of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille. They discussed some of the challenges facing the financing of water projects. Mr. Gurría identified sustainable and equitable financing as one of the fundamental conditions for successful water policy reform, regardless of whether the country in question is a member OECD state or a developing country; the only difference is the target of the investment. In developing countries, the financing would go to the development of infrastructure to improve access and connectivity of people to water and sanitation services because ironically, it is the poorest people in the world who pay significantly more than those connected to water mains. For OECD countries, however, the challenge that must be addressed is the expensive modernisation of an extensive network of aging and leaking pipes. The amounts needed for financing such as this range between 1-4% of national GDPs. Equally important, therefore, is the realisation that this financing must come with a long-term plan.