WWDR1: "Water for People, Water for Life"

WWDR1 cover

Report by Chapter and Table of Contents

*The following links are bookmarks pointing to full WWDR1 [PDF - 16.12 MB]

Front matter

Table of contents

Foreword, Prologue and Preface 

Index of Figures, Maps, Boxes and Tables 


Part I: Setting the Scene
Part I presents the background, starting with an introduction to the water crisis in its many shapes and forms. It then provides a glimpse on the milestones of the long policy road that has brought us to where we stand today, and proposes some tools to help us assess our progress towards building a better future.

Chapter 1 - The World's Water Crisis
The fact that the world faces a water crisis has become increasingly clear in recent years. Challenges remain widespread and reflect severe problems in the management of water resources in many parts of the world. These problems will intensify unless effective and concerted actions are taken, as is made clear in the World Water Vision (Cosgrove and Rijsberman, 2000, p. xxi): This increase in water withdrawals implies that water stress will increase significantly in 60% of the world, including large parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Will this lead to more frequent and more serious water crises? Assuming business as usual: yes.

Chapter 2 - Milestones 
The road to sustainable management of water resources has been paved with thirty years of international conferences and decisions. This chapter gives the highlights of these major worldwide efforts.

Chapter 3 - Signing Progress: Indicators Mark the Way
The importance of indicators cannot be overestimated, as it is they that will allow for informed, rational decisions and actions to be taken. Indicators are thus at the heart of our book’s mission – taking stock for people and planet.
This chapter offers an overview of the concept of indicators and of the World Water Assessment Programme’s (WWAP’s) construction of a base upon which future indicators can be further developed. We are, however, only in the initial stages of this important project – the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Part II: A Look at the World's Freshwater Resources
Solid, vapour and liquid, water is diverse by its very nature. For the Earth's inhabitants, this diversity also means great disparities in well-being and development. This part provides a brief look at the current state of freshwater, in all the world's regions.

Chapter 4 - The Natural Water Cycle 
Lead agencies: UNESCO and WMO

Part III: Challenges to Life and Well-Being

This section explores the ways in which we use water and the increasing demands we are placing on the resource.

Chapter 5 - Basic Needs and the Right to Health 
Lead agency: WHO. Collaborating agency: UNICEF

Having access to safe and sufficient water and sanitation are now recognized as basic human rights. Being able to wash one's hands and drink clean water can have a major impact on family hygiene and health. Women play an especially important role in this process. Because people who are poor are most likely to get sick, and ill health perpetuates poverty, it triggers a vicious cycle that hampers economic and social development.

Chapter 6 - Protecting Ecosystems for People and Planet 
Lead agency: UNEP. Collaborating agencies: UNECE / WHO / UNCBD / UNESCO / UNDESA / UNU

The possible negative impact of human activity on the environment must be considered when managing water resources in a sustainable way. It is not enough to draw water from nature for use in agriculture, industry, and everyday life without also taking account of nature's needs. Animals and plants, landscapes and wetlands need clean water too. Wastewater must be recycled so that pollution is minimized. Special areas like estuaries, which play an important part in supporting the delicate and complex food chain of many birds and fish, may require total protection. Human beings must learn to respect the resource base on which life ultimately depends and to see land and water as two sides of the same coin. For this reason, decisions should be taken at river basin level, when possible.

Chapter 7 - Competing Needs in an Urban Environment 
Lead agency: UN - HABITAT. Collaborating agencies: WHO and UNDESA

By 2030, over 60% (nearly 5 billion people) of the world's population will be living in urban areas. As a result, competing demands from domestic, commercial, industrial and peri-urban agriculture are putting enormous pressure on freshwater resources. In their bid to meet soaring demand, cities are going deeper into ground water sources and farther to surface water sources, at costs - including environmental costs - which are clearly unsustainable. Cities also face the challenge of securing access to safe water for the urban poor, and of cutting down on wasteful and illegal uses. The urban water crisis can only be met by changes in management and governance that lead to more sustainable use of the shared resource.

Chapter 8 - Securing Food for a Growing World Population
Lead agency: FAO. Collaborating agencies: WHO / UNEP / IAEA

The challenge here is to increase food production and security by getting 'more crop per drop', while also devising ways to ensure a more equitable allocation of water for food production. Since about 80% of the world's water is used for irrigation, even small changes in the way crops are planted, watered and harvested can make a big difference. Better ways to enhance the productivity of rainfed agriculture must also be developed. Poor populations are the most vulnerable, and the strain will only increase in the face of demographic pressure.

Chapter 9 - Promoting Cleaner Industry for Everyone's Benefit 
Lead agency: UNIDO. Collaborating agencies: WHO and UNDESA

Industry is both a major user of water resources and a major contributor to economic and social development. To move towards sustainability, industries must be assured of having an adequate supply of water. In return, industries should undertake to see that water used in industrial processes is used efficiently and not returned to nature as untreated waste that pollutes the environment. Technology is important for recycling of water, and a variety of economic and legislative measures can also provide incentives for responsible management.

Chapter 10 - Developing Energy to Meet Development Needs 
Lead agency: UNIDO. Collaborating agencies: WHO / UNEP / Regional Commissions / World Bank

Tremendous increases of energy and water will be required in the near future as the world's population increases from 6 to over 9 billion. Even now, some 2 billion people do not have access to a reliable supply of electricity. Somehow capacity must be increased to meet this demand, and at the same time production and use of energy must be made more efficient. To be sustainable, however, these objectives should be achieved without energy production having any negative impact on either human health or the environment. As for industry, the tools available include technological fixes, development of alternative or renewable energy sources, and a judicious mix of management options that include economic incentives and legislation. Priorities in developed and developing countries may be very different.

Part IV: Fitting the Pieces Together
This section examines the ways in which the competing needs, uses and demands elucidated in the previous part might be met. It discusses a few of the any tools available to decision-makers and communities to help them shape policy and practice so as to encourage an efficient and equitable use of the resource.

Chapter 11 - Mitigating Risk and Coping with Uncertainty 
Lead agency: WMO. Collaborating agencies: UNDESA / UNESCO / WHO / UNEP / ISDR / CCD / CBD / Regional Commissions

Water related hazards, such as floods, droughts, tropical storms, erosion and various kinds of pollution should be factored into any integrated approach to water resource management and policy. Although it is the world's poor who suffer the most when exposed to such dangers, everyone's security is at stake. One way to minimize risk is to develop more capacity in the monitoring and forecasting of extreme events. With this information, appropriate early warning systems and infrastructure can be installed, and new planning strategies devised. It is also necessary to ensure that climate variability and change have their place in the total picture.

Chapter 12 - Sharing Water: Defining a Common Interest
Lead agency: UNESCO Collaborating agencies: Regional Commissions

Competition over scarce or poorly allocated resources can lead to tension and insecurity. Therefore decision-makers, communities, governments and regions must strive to develop policies that allow for sharing among all stakeholders. Many different interests are at stake and equitable solutions must be found: between cities and rural areas, rich and poor, arid lands and wet lands, public and private, infrastructure and natural environments; mainstream and marginal groups, local stakeholders and centralized authorities. At the regional and international level, many river basin and aquifer authorities are developing integrated approaches that stress cooperation of the shared resource. A UNESCO programme called  (From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential) is reviewing case studies of "transboundary" water sharing.

Chapter 13 - Recognizing and Valuing the Many Faces of Water 
Lead agency: UNDESA. Collaborating agencies: UNECE and World Bank

This whole question is among the most controversial of all the challenges identified in the Ministerial Declaration emerging from the Second World Water Forum in the Hague. In many societies the whole notion of putting a price tag on someting as intrinsically valuable as water is unacceptable. Yet services must be paid for. There is also much disagreement about how to balance the costs of provision and wastewater treatment with the goal of equity and finding ways to meet the needs of poor and vulnerable populations. Creative new partnerships between the public and private sectors should be developed, along with accounting and taxation systems that take full account of environmental and social factors.

Chapter 14 - Ensuring the Knowledge Base: A Collective Responsibility 
Lead agencies: UNESCO and WMO. Collaborating agencies: UNDESA / IAEA / World Bank / UNEP / UNU

This target takes account of the whole range of technical and non-technical information and knowledge, and seeks ways for all societies to benefit from their development, exchange and dissemination. National authorities and resource managers need sound scientific data on which to base their projections and decision-making. Stakeholders need access to other kinds of information and educational opportunities if they are to understand and participate in the process as responsible citizens. With the development of modern telecommunications and the global marketplace, it is more than ever necessary to ensure that every community and country play a role in building a more sustainable future.

Chapter 15 - Governing Water Wisely for Sustainable Development
Lead agency: UNDP. Collaborating agencies: FAO / UNEP / UNCBD / Regional Commissions

This challenge area is particularly complex and sensitive. It moves the debate about sustainability beyond water management issues and into processes of political, social and institutional change. Many countries agree that good governance means allowing every sector of society to participate in the decision-making process and that the interests of all stakeholders should be taken into account. However, mechanisms for doing so are not always in place, even if decentralization and the increasing involvement of civil society are worldwide trends. International cooperation and assistance may play a crucial role - particularly in developing countries - by helping to strengthen institutional capacity.

Part V: Pilot Case Studies: A Focus on Real-World Examples
This section checks the accuracy of the big picture on the basis of snapshots of water in the field. Seven case studies are presented here, to observe the effectiveness of different approaches to integrated management and to test our indicators for measuring progress.

Chapter 16 - Chao Phraya River Basin, Thailand 
Office of Natural Water Resources Committee of Thailand (ONWRC)

Chapter 17 - Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe-Pskovskoe, Estonia and the Russian Federation 
Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, and the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia

Chapter 18 - Ruhuna Basins, Sri Lanka 
Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management of Sri Lanka

Chapter 19 - Seine-Normandy Basin, France 
Water Agency of Seine-Normandy (AESN, Agence de l'Eau Seine-Normandie)

Chapter 20 - Senegal River Basin, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal
Organization for the Development of the Senegal River
(OMVS, Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve du Sénégal)

Chapter 21 - Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia and Peru 
Binational Autonomous Authority of Lake Titicaca
(ALT, Autoridad Binacional del Lago Titicaca Perú-Bolivia)

Chapter 22 - Greater Tokyo, Japan 
National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management - Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Japan (NILIM-MLIT)

Part VI: Management Challenges: Stewardship and Governance
This section concludes the Report by putting together the pieces that make up the giant puzzle of factors contributing to today's global water situation. Many country tables are included in the chapter.

Chapter 23 - The World's Water Crisis: Fitting the Pieces Together 



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