Table of Contents

Handbook of Water Economics

Handbook of Water Economics

Edited by Ariel Dinar and Kurt Schwabe

Water scarcity, whether in the quality or quantity dimension, afflicts most countries. Decisions on water management and allocation over time, space, and among uses and users involve economic considerations. This Handbook assembles research that represents recent thinking and applications in water economics. The book chapters are written by leading scholars in the field who address issues related to its use, management, and value. The topics cover analytical methods, sectoral and intersectoral water issues, and issues associated with different sources of water.

Chapter 20: Water conservation: thinking beyond the tap

Diane Dupont

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, water


Enhanced attention has been drawn to the importance of water to the world ever since 1993. This was when the first World Water Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to be 22 March each year. Frequently, the focus has been on the quantity of water available. For example, in 1997 the theme was ‘The World’s Water: Is There Enough?’ In 2000 it was ‘Water for the 21st Century’. In 2003 the theme was ‘Water for the Future’ and, more recently in 2007, the stark theme was ‘Water Scarcity’ (United Nations Water, 2013). Twice in the 20 years since World Water Day was first established, the key theme has made reference to the amount of water available for consumption in cities – ‘Water for Thirsty Cities’ (1996), and ‘Water For Cities’ (2011). Underscoring these themes are two inter-related beliefs: (1) there are insufficient water supplies; and (2) such inadequate resources require conservation as a means of providing stewardship of scarce resources. The 2003 World Water Day goal was stated as to ‘inspire political and community action and encourage greater global understanding of the need for more responsible water use and conservation’ (United Nations Water, 2013). Further emphasis on the importance of making progress towards this goal came when the United Nations identified the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life 2005–2015’ (United Nations, 2005). Yet, as the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme’s report (UN WWAP, 2012) makes clear, not all regions/countries are the same.

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