Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute


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Chapter 4 of On Target for People and Planet: Setting and Achieving Water-Related Sustainable Development Goals, pp. 19-22. Julie van der Bliek, Peter McCornick, and James Clarke (eds.) Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute, 2014.


Copyright 2014 International Water Management Institute. Used by permission.


Society has a universal need for water that crosses all sectors of activity. We need to be able to measure progress towards sustainable water for all by working towards targets that consider the different dimensions of water resources and use, including water quantity and quality. A suite of indicators that reflect water use by different sectors is needed to measure progress towards the forthcoming SDGs’ [sustainable development goals] water-related targets. Such indicators will need to rely on national data, must consider the variation in data availability, and can be complemented with new cost-effective ways for data collection.

Remote sensing measurements, smart field sensors, ICT technologies, and open access databases create new opportunities to more accurately, cost-effectively and transparently quantify water resources. However, the usefulness and relevance of any indicators will be as important as the ease of measurement.

The challenge in progressing towards the water-related targets is to ensure that a balance is achieved between the competing uses of water, meeting human needs while maintaining ecosystem health.