The United Nations World Water Development Report

The United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR), released every year with a focus on different strategic water issues each year, is the UN’s flagship report on water. It is a comprehensive review that gives an overall picture of the state of the world's freshwater resources and aims to provide decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water.

Through a series of assessments, the Reports provide a mechanism for monitoring changes in the resource and its management and tracking progress towards achieving targets, particularly those of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Reports also offer best practices as well as in-depth theoretical analyses to help stimulate ideas and actions for better stewardship in the water sector.

The development of the WWDR, coordinated by WWAP, is a joint effort of the UN agencies and entities which make up UN-Water, working in partnership with governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders.

Foundation of the Report

The basis for the WWDR springs from the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and the UN Millennium Declaration of 2000. In that document, the international community pledged to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water; and to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources, by developing water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies. In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Universal, inclusive and indivisible, the Agenda calls for action by all countries to improve the lives of people everywhere, and achievement of a large number of the SDGs is dependent upon the access to safe and sufficient water. In effect, the progress of a country towards the SDGs can partly be measured by assessing that country's water situation.

As such, the WWDR is part of an ongoing worldwide assessment project to measure progress towards achieving the goals of sustainable development set out by the United Nations. It belongs to a lineage of commitments and efforts made in the international community to resolve the world's water problems, an effort that dates back several decades.

The WWDR seeks to answer the questions being asked by the international community: how far have we come towards meeting the targets of sustainable development? How far have we yet to do? What actions can we take to make the path smoother, and faster? In today's changing world, the Report takes stock of past actions, present challenges, and future opportunities in order to provide decision-makers with up-to-date, reliable information that can help to change the ways in which we use water.

The Targeted Audience

The WWDR is targeted to all those involved in the formulation and implementation of water-related policies and investment strategies, as well as to professionals at all levels. Although it offers a broad global picture, it focuses particularly on the situation in developing countries, where the need for better infrastructure and water governance is highest. With the report, WWAP is aiming to show where systems are failing, and to provide the information needed for efficient and effective capacity-building throughout the world.

Gender Mainstreaming

WWAP has been a leader in mainstreaming gender into all of its projects and publications, such as the World Water Development Reports.  The Advisory Group on Gender Equality was created in 2010, with the aim of assisting WWAP in mainstreaming gender equality considerations in its products, in particular in the World Water Development Reports (WWDR). The group provides guidance and feedback on the implementation of the gender mainstreaming in WWAP publications and is comprised of experts from all over the world.

More about WWAP's Gender Activities 

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