This chapter assesses the role of innovation in averting the global water crisis. Recent technical advances—such as desalinization of saltwater, geographical information systems (GIS), and remote sensing—have the potential for managing and increasing freshwater supplies. There is also a new generation of urban water supply systems that can improve efficiency and sustainable use. Water use in agriculture, too, can benefit from a range of innovations in irrigation technologies and delivery systems. The chapter then considers the key policies and other initiatives that are necessary for prompting more economy-wide innovation in water technologies: public policies and investments that facilitate private research and development (R&D) activities of firms; overcoming the water efficiency paradox; privatization of some activities currently undertaken by public supply utilities; and initiatives by the private sector and corporations to account for water costs and risks.
Keywords: water crisis, desalinization, geographical information systems, remote sensing, water management, water supply systems, irrigation technologies, water technologies, private research, water efficiency
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