I am off to my first Summit on the Global Agenda, a meeting of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils, which will bring together 900 thought leaders from business, government, academia and civil society to address key global issues.

I will be part of the water security discussion, but there are 80 other topics to be discussed, such as human rights, biotechnology, poverty and sustainable development, climate change, China, etc. This is a very exciting opportunity for me, not only to discuss with my peers the challenges of water security, but also a great opportunity to engage with people who usually don’t think about water security as a critical aspect of their area of interest.

I am personally interested in discussing in Dubai the complexity of valuing water. We use water without realizing its real value and often take the resource and the services it provides for granted. The unsustainable use of water can be partly attributed to the fact that we do not pay the full cost of using it. This may be due to subsidies or because we do not account for the societal costs linked to its use.

I strongly believe that this is an area where business can play a positive role. Not only do companies depend on water, but they also have an impact on the resource. By looking at the value of the water they use in their operations, they can better inform management actions and limit wasteful practices.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and its member companies have started to identify various hurdles associated with valuing water. These make valuation somewhat challenging to perform, but they also intensify the need to provide additional guidance to business around water valuation, which is the next project that the WBCSD and its members will tackle as part of the WBCSD Value of Water project.

I will be sharing our thinking in Dubai with policy-makers, regulators and NGOs. I hope to come back with new ideas on how to tackle the challenge.

Author: Joppe Cramwinckel is Director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on Water.

 Image: UN peacekeepers from Brazil donate water to Haitians in Port-au-Prince REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz