Highlighting the role of water and sanitation in meeting the MDGs

IWMI contributed a so-called Challenge Paper on the Water Challenge to the Copenhagen Consensus project (Rijsberman, 2004). Billed as a unique process to prioritize scarce resources to tackle the world’s key challenges, it resulted in a list of priority solutions endorsed by some of the world’s top economists that was widely published and highly influential.

To address each of 10 challenges facing humanity, authors were invited to identify up to five opportunities and analyse their Benefit-Cost-Ratio. Each challenge paper was reviewed and critiqued by two discussants. The list of opportunities was ranked by a panel of eminent economists. The panel decided to rank 17 opportunities (4 as very good; 5 as good; 4 as fair and 4 as bad opportunities).

The Water Challenge paper submitted three opportunities, i.e. (a) community managed water supply and sanitation; (b) small scale water technology for livelihoods; and (c) research on water productivity in food production. All three were all ranked as “good” (6,7 and 8).

The Water Challenge paper was summarized in a full-page article in The Economist (Economics Forum, 13 May 2004). The Copenhagen Consensus results were widely discussed in the world’s top media (The Economist, The New York Times, Science, etc.). The Copenhagen Consensus book has been nominated for “best book of 2004” by The Economist.

Reference: Rijsberman, F. 2004. Sanitation and access to clean water. In: B. Lomborg, ed. Global Crises, Global Solutions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Pp 498-527.