With a relatively small population and 7% of the world's available freshwater resources, Canada is well placed for a world of water scarcity where the real value of water in its many uses becomes more and more apparent. However, action is necessary to ensure that Canada continues to benefit from the social, economic and environmental goods and services derived from water resources. Experience and analysis suggests that policy and incentives play critical roles in the sustainable exploitation of natural resources. In particular, properly valuing water in all its forms and uses appears to be critical. Analysis abroad has underlined the benefits of clearly delineating the roles of regulators, resource managers, infrastructure operators and service providers. The separation of water property rights and use rights from land title issues has also been found to improve incentives and resource governance. Approaches which build in rewards for non-market benefits and penalties for negative spill-overs have achieved success. To better prepare for the future, Canada' s water governance institutions need to explore means of improving our own water allocation and incentive systems. Experts in the field have already identified several areas where effort is warranted: plant breeding to deal with water scarcity and changing climate in areas of stress; understanding and better protecting natural capital and ecosystems that will become scarcer in future; inter-agency collaboration to ensure coordinated engagement on water with U.S, and; undertaking more comprehensive bio-economic modeling and analysis to better anticipate water stresses at home and abroad.


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