UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


The Economics of Water

Economic of Water
What is the work of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water focus on? What challenges is it addressing?

For the first time in history, human activity and practices have put the global water cycle, on which all life depends, on an unsustainable course. The science also shows how communities and nations are hydrologically intertwined through not just surface water but also atmospheric moisture flows.

The global water crisis will endanger all the Sustainable Development Goals, making them virtually impossible to achieve. It will imperil food and health security, exacerbate poverty, and peace within and between nations. It will disproportionately affect women, vulnerable and marginalised groups among indigenous communities, youth, farmers, workers and small and medium-sized businesses.

Our work with the Global Commission on the Economics of Water

Turning The Tide

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All our current arrangements and economic thinking rest on the assumption, that the local and regional supply of water is relatively stable, predictable and manageable. This is no longer true. Humanity is now in the midst of a global water crisis, around which the cost of inaction is unbearable, for both the Global North and the Global South.

The Global Commission on the Economics of water is tasked to properly define, value, and govern water as a global common good, based on a better understanding of the links between water, economic development, climate change and biodiversity loss. Thinking about water in this way will allow us to mobilise urgent collective action and design new rules that put equity and justice at the centre of our response to both a local and a global emergency.

Why is it key for our work on the green economy?

As water is integral to achieving most of the sustainable development challenges, such as combating climate change, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth, sustainable livelihoods, it can catalyse a new development model based on more equitable premises and better stewardship of nature. Rethinking our relationship with water is crucial to our green economy transformation as it makes a case for promoting green and blue innovation and finance and reimagining the state's role in shaping markets along with central banks and financial regulators.

Academic journal papers
  • Rockström, J., Mazzucato, M., Andersen, L. S., Fahrländer, S. F., & Gerten, D. (2023). Why we need a new economics for water as a common good. Nature, 615.
  • Q&A with Mariana Mazzucato and others at Nature Water/ Sjöstrand, K. Water for sustainable development. Nat Water 1, 568–572 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44221-023-00108-2
Policy briefs and reports
Working papes
Events - retreats

For more information on Water Commission, please visit:




Dr Mariam Zaqout, Postdoctoral Researcher (Economics of Water)
Email: m.zaqout@ucl.ac.uk