The way forward
A Multi-value approach to water governance is crucial if sustainability of water is to be achieved. This approach does not only relate to water, but aims to engage with the whole social, cultural, economic and wider political system. A good water governance recognizes multiple values and the active participation of a varied set of actors.
To maximize the value of water in investment decisions all benefits need to be taken into account including those that are economic, social or environmental; and where benefits cannot be monetized, other valuation tools can be used.
In these cases tools as cost–effectiveness analyses, which compare costs with non-pecuniary outcomes such as lives saved, people served or environmental metrics achieved are recommended. Another critical factor for determining benefits of a project is comparing it to what would happen if the project were not undertaken.
Data and information relating to social, economic and environmental demands and uses for water are also needed to complete the picture for potential value generation from water. Water-related data and information are central to understanding and valuing the resource; this can be done by expanding citizen science and involving representative of local stakeholders in ground-truthing data and information.
A full and meaningful participation of relevant stakeholder groups in assessments and gender-sensitive decision-making is the most effective, and equitable, means to capture the full spectrum of values.