UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Global group of experts announce launch of the Global Commission on the Economics Water in Davos

25 May 2022

The Global Commission on the Economics of Water has been officially launched in Davos, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, setting an ambitious goal for itself.

WEF Annual Meeting

The Commission will deliver a critical report, entitled The Economics of Water: An Agenda for the Common Good. This review comes in completion of the trilogy that began with the Stern Review on the economics of climate change, followed by the Dasgupta Review on the economics of biodiversity, and aims to reach global impact by delivering an actionable agenda to spur change across state, non-state, and key economic actors.

This is to be an in-depth, independent global review that aims to assess the economic, social and environmental benefits of healthy and resilient fresh water systems globally as an integral part of the biosphere. The report also aims to demonstrate the need for urgent, concrete, and coherent action accompanied by a substantial change in policy, business approaches and global collaboration to tackle the combined crisis of water, sustainability, and food and energy security.

Rethinking the economics of water and how it is governed is one of the key ambitions announced in Davos: “The dysfunctions in markets today are not an accident, they are the result of decisions that we have taken in business and governments. If every person on the planet is to have access to enough safe water at an affordable cost, we must govern our economy in a radically different way and treat water as a global common good,” said Mariana Mazzucato.

The idea of common good is central to the review and reflects the work of Professor Mazzucato and that of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. The commission is led by an all-star team, composed of UCL Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Professor Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of Singapore. They are joined by a diverse group of 17 world-renowned experts from science, policy, and front-line practice areas.

The Global Commission’s interim results will be published to coincide with the UN’s 2023 Water Conference and inform the launch of a “Pact for Voluntary Commitments”.

About the Global Commission

Commission Co-chairs

  • Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL); Founding Director of the UCL Institute foInnovation and Public Purpose (IIPP); Chair of the World Health Organization Council of the Economics of Health for All; Author of Mission Economy: a moonshot guide to changing capitalism.
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iewala, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria; Former MD, World Bank; Co-Chair, G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic 
  • Johan Rockstrom, Professor in Earth system science University of Potsdam; Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Co-chair of the Earth Commission of the Global Commons Alliance; Member European Investment Bank (EIB) Climate and Environment Advisory Council; and the EU Mission board on Climate Adaptation.
  • Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister, Singapore; Chair, G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance (2017/18); Co-Chair, G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (2021) Commissioners and Lead Experts

Lead Experts

  • Quentin Grafton, Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University; Chair holder of UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance
  • Joyeeta Gupta, Professor at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam; co-chair of the Earth Commission of the Global Commons Alliance
  • Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements; Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN); member of the Ubuntu Advisory Board of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Coordinating Lead


  • Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, Mayor of the City of Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Alicia Barcena Ibarra, Former Executive Secretary of CEPAL, Chile
  • LaToya Cantrell , Mayor of the City of New Orleans, USA
  • Arunabha Ghosh , CEO of the Council of Energy, Environment and Water, New Delhi, India
  • Naoko Ishii, Executive Vice President and Director, Center for Global Commons, University of Tokyo
  • Juan Carlos Jintiach, Advisor of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, Ecuador
  • Inge Kaul, Senior Fellow, Hertie School, Berlin, Germany
  • QIU Baoxing, President of the Chinese Society for Urban Studies
  • Mamphela Ramphele, President of the Club of Rome, South Africa
  • Ismail Serageldin, Founding Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt


  • Richard Damania, World Bank, Chief Economist, Sustainable Development Vice
  • Kathleen Dominique, OECD, Environment Directorate
  • Usha Rao-Monari, UNDP, Under Secretary-General and Associate Administrator
  • Abebe Selassie, IMF, Director of the African Department

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