A risk-based framework

Risk provides a common language and focus for academics and practitioners to address the multiple dimensions of water security. Our risk-based framework draws from different disciplines and approaches and is a based on three pillars:

  • Firstly, it provides a focus on water security outcomes, considering the trade-offs between different and interrelated outcomes in water resource systems and water services.
  • Secondly, we use a distributional analysis to evaluate and address inequalities embedded in social practices or generated by ill-conceived interventions.
  • Thirdly, we centre the analyses on the different processes and practices by which water security is managed and realised as these also determine how inequalities are addressed for individuals, groups and across geographies.

We characterise three water security outcomes, identifying the interactions and trade-offs between them:

  • Resource sustainability: water usage is managed and conserved to ensure resource quality and availability in consideration of the impacts of climate variability and extremes on surface water and groundwater systems.
  • Inclusive services: multiple users (people, industry, agriculture) are able to access water that is safe, reliable, sufficient and affordable, and the ability to dispose of wastewater safely.
  • Sustainable growth: changing water needs and threats, linked to job creation, productivity and the standard of living, are managed as countries develop.

UK Department for International Development Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

‘Access to water is a defining challenge for the 21st century. The UK has already helped 43 million people to access clean water, but there is far more to be done.’

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