Innovation - Water security, including the role of the private sector

November 2011 to December 2012

The concept of ‘water security’ is increasingly being used to capture a range of issues at the intersection of hydrology, ecology and society. At a political level its meaning is debated, influenced by related concepts of national and human security. Yet the operational meaning of water security remains unclear and without tools to measure it in simple, reliable terms, it is unlikely to become a meaningful objective in practice and policy.

This project examines the state of the debate on water scarcity and security, with a view to establishing the role of economic and social, as well as biophysical, factors. It will identify the particular challenges and potential options for measuring water security, analysing recent debates and existing indicators, and highlighting potential definitions and suitable metrics to inform key policy debates, funding priorities and effectiveness monitoring.

There will be additional focus on private sector engagement in water security and water resource management. This will include analysis of the following areas:

  • the potential for ‘partnerships’ to secure co-benefits of water resource development for both communities and corporations
  • the opportunities and pitfalls that arise as the private sector seeks to contribute to bridging key gaps in water security, notably investment, information, and institutions.

Uncertain frontiers: mapping new corporate engagement in water security

Working and discussion papers | January 2013 | Nathaniel Mason
New forms of engagement by large multinational corporations around water appear to stray into the historically public-sector domain of water resources management. This ODI Working Paper takes a critical look at these initiatives, and reviews both the opportunities and...

Water security: from abstract concept to meaningful metrics

Working and discussion papers | October 2012 | Nathaniel Mason and Roger Calow
This ODI Working Paper presents an overview of options for developing more rigorous metrics for progress in water security, which is essential if we are to translate the idea from an abstract concept to a meaningful tool to guide policy and practice.

Securing food and water

Comment | 4 July 2012 | Roger Calow
Roger Calow, Head of the Water Policy Programme, discusses water and food security at a Global Business Symposium on Securing Foof and Water, convened by the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, June 2012.
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