Pacific Institute

Valuing Water for Better Governance: How To Promote Dialogue To Balance Social, Environmental, And Economic Values?

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Abstract

Solving the freshwater crisis requires significantly more investment and spending in the water sector. But getting more money requires broader agreement among stakeholders than exists at present. A powerful way of obtaining broader agreement is to clarify through dialogues our values, value differences, and common ground. When this is done, people and businesses are willing to pay more for water systems and their governance, which in turn enables water systems and their managers to deliver more value to people and businesses.

Dialogue about values also strengthens the legitimacy and sustainability of formal political decisions; many of which have been reversed or deferred at great cost because underlying value issues were ignored. Dialogue about values is essential to create a 'virtuous circle' of progress in the water sector. This paper develops an initial intellectual framework for such dialogue.

This paper was sponsored by the Business and Industry CEO Panel for Water and was originally presented at the 3rd World Water Forum, March 2003.

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