Water is the silent currency that runs through the global economy. In a world of approximately seven billion people—with three billion new consumers coming on stage by 2030—and over $70 trillion of global production, vast amounts of water are needed to irrigate our crops, cool our power plants, supply our manufacturing and support our cities.
We are staring down a future that may require as much as 40 percent more water than today’s accessible supply. Our traditional practices are proving increasingly unsustainable. In many places, growing demands for water are running into the limitations of what nature can easily yield to us, and the cost of delivering an additional liter of water is increasing.
Water markets—which reward the more efficient use of water by establishing water’s unique value as an asset—are emerging as a viable approach to managing water supplies more sustainably and productively. Community Water Trusts (CWTs), developed by The Nature Conservancy’s impact investing unit, NatureVest, as well as it Global Water team, utilize the framework provided by water markets to help rebalance water use for the benefit of freshwater ecosystems and underserved groups while continuing to support the agricultural communities whose livelihoods rely on this important resource. By becoming an active participant in the water markets, community water trusts are also able to benefit from the underlying financial appreciation of water as an asset.