Trade and water: how might trade policy contribute to sustainable water management?

This paper identifies some of the key intersections between trade policy and water management, in areas such as agriculture, hydropower generation, water services and wastewater management. From a trade policy perspective, the main immediate concern is to ensure that international trade rules and disciplines do not unduly affect countries’ ability to manage their water resources sustainably and according to their respective social preferences. While the local nature of water systems and the diversity of water management objectives is not conducive to the application of trade instruments to enforce a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approach to water management, there is also a range of areas in which trade policy could support the sustainable management of water and related SDG objectives.