The hidden wealth of nations: the economics of groundwater in times of climate change

Groundwater is vital to economic activity and growth, food security, socioeconomic development, and adapting to the impacts of climate change. But the sustainability of this critical resource is at risk in many regions, partly because it is not valued appropriately and is taken for granted. In the context of global pressures on food systems and water supply, policymakers need to act now to ensure groundwater is managed responsibly across sectors depending on this resource. Groundwater is the most important freshwater resource—particularly in times of drought. As climate change advances, policymakers need to understand better and manage this critical asset. A new World Bank report considers the economic value of groundwater, the costs of misusing it, and the opportunities to leverage it more effectively. The report, titled The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Economics of Groundwater in Times of Climate Change, demonstrates how groundwater can safeguard food security while boosting economic growth and job creation. However in most cases, this resource has been undervalued and overexploited, with insufficient regard for its long-term sustainability. This is partly due to a lack of systematic research into its economic importance.