State of the world 2008: water in a sustainable economy

Choices about the way water is used must be made, argues IUCN in the latest volume of the book, State of the World

Water may be the critical resource challenge of this century, with farmers, cities, and the natural environment all claiming shares of a shrinking pool.

“Growing demands and rising competition over water mean that choices must be made – choices over allocating water for different purposes,” write Ger Bergkamp and Claudia Sadoff of IUCN, in Water in a Sustainable Economy, one chapter in the latest State of the World report.

“Choices must also be made in the ways water is used – whether it is wasted or conserved, polluted or protected, over-extracted or managed sustainably, valued for all its uses or simply exploited for a few.”
Pioneering entrepreneurs, nongovernmental organizations, and governments around the globe are inventing the Earth’s first sustainable global economy, according to State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy. In response to climate change and other environmental problems, these leaders are field-testing a remarkable array of economic innovations that offer surprising and hopeful new opportunities for long-term prosperity, finds the new report from the Worldwatch Institute.

The report describes a host of new economic opportunities that are attracting capital. An estimated $52 billion was invested in renewable energy in 2006, up 33 percent from 2005. Preliminary estimates indicate that the figure reached $66 billion in 2007. Carbon trading is growing even more explosively, reaching an estimated $30 billion in 2006, nearly triple the amount traded in 2005.

State of the World 2008 cites two major economic modeling studies that find that the damage from global climate change could equal as much as 8 percent of global economic output by the end of this century. Citing World Bank data, the report also notes that some 39 countries experienced a decline of 5 percent or more in wealth when accounting measures also included factors such as unsustainable forest harvesting, depletion of non-renewable resources, and damage from carbon emissions. For 10 countries, the decline ranged from 25 to 60 percent.

To order a copy online:

For more information, please contact:

Claire Warmenbol, IUCN Water Programme, Tel: +41 22 999 0188; E-mail:

Julia Tier, The Worldwatch Institute, Tel: +1 202 452 1992 (ext 594); E-mail:

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