The 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2020) entitled ‘Water and Climate Change’ aims at helping the water community to tackle the challenges of climate change and informing the climate change community about the opportunities that improved water management offers in terms of adaptation and mitigation.
The 2020 United Nations World Water Development Report focuses on the challenges, opportunities and potential responses to climate change, in terms of adaptation, mitigation and improved resilience that can be addressed through improving water management. Combining climate change adaptation and mitigation, through water, is a win-win proposal, improving the provision of water supply and sanitation services and combating both the causes and impacts of climate change, including disaster risk reduction.
The 2019 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2019) entitled ‘Leaving No One Behind’ seeks to inform policy and decision-makers, inside and outside the water community, how improvements in water resources management and access to water supply and sanitation services are essential to overcoming poverty and addressing various other social and economic inequities.
In an increasingly globalized world, the impacts of water-related decisions cross borders and affect everyone. Extreme events, environmental degradation, population growth, rapid urbanization, unsustainable and inequitable consumption patterns, conflicts and social unrest, and unprecedented migratory flows are among the interconnected pressures faced by humanity, often hitting those in vulnerable situations the hardest through their impacts on water.
Addressing the inequalities faced by disadvantaged groups requires tailored solutions that take account of the day-to-day realities of people and communities in vulnerable situations. Properly designed and adequately implemented policies, efficient and appropriate use of financial resources, as well as evidence-based knowledge on water resources and water-related issues are also vital to eliminating inequalities in access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
The 2018 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR 2018) seeks to inform policy and decision-makers, inside and outside the water community, about the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address contemporary water management challenges across all sectors, and particularly regarding water for agriculture, sustainable cities, disaster risk reduction and water quality.
The WWDR 2018, titled ‘Nature-Based Solutions for Water’, demonstrates how NBS offer a vital means of moving beyond business-as-usual to address many of the world’s water challenges while simultaneously delivering additional benefits vital to all aspects of sustainable development.
Working with nature improves the management of water resources, helps achieve water security for all, and supports the core aspects of sustainable development.
The 2017 WWDR demonstrates how improved wastewater management generates social, environmental and economic benefits essential for sustainable development and is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report’s title reflects the critical role that wastewater is poised to play in the context of a circular economy, whereby economic development is balanced with the protection of natural resources and environmental sustainability, and where a cleaner and more sustainable economy has a positive effect on the water quality.
Improved wastewater management generates social, environmental and economic benefits, and is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
From its collection, through various uses, to its ultimate return to the natural environment, water is a key factor in the development of job opportunities either directly related to its management (supply, infrastructure, wastewater treatment, etc.) or in economic sectors that are heavily water-dependent such as agriculture, fishing, power, industry and health. Furthermore, access to safe drinking water and sanitation promotes an educated and healthy workforce, which constitutes an essential factor for sustained economic growth.
The 2016 WWDR illustrates that nearly 3 out of 4 jobs in the global workforce (3.2 billion people) are moderately or highly dependent upon access to water and water-related services and therefore states that “Water is essential to decent jobs and sustainable development”. Water stress and the lack of decent work can exacerbate security challenges, force migration and undo the progress made in the fight to eradicate poverty.
Water is at the core of sustainable development. Water resources, and the range of services they provide, underpin economic growth, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. From food and energy security to human and environmental health, water has been shown to contribute to improvements in social well being, affecting the livelihoods of billions. Progress towards the achievement of most sustainable development goals requires significant improvement of water management across the globe.
The 2015 WWDR 2015 demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability. Taking account of economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability, the report’s forward-looking narrative describes how major challenges and change factors in the modern world will affect – and can be affected by – water resources, services and related benefits.
Water and energy are closely interconnected and highly interdependent. Choices made and actions taken in one domain can greatly affect the other, positively or negatively. Trade-offs need to be managed to limit negative impacts and foster opportunities for synergy. Water and energy have crucial impacts on poverty alleviation both directly, as a number of the Millennium Development Goals depend on major improvements in access to water, sanitation, power and energy sources, and indirectly, as water and energy can be binding constraints on economic growth – the ultimate hope for widespread poverty reduction.
The fourth edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR 4), titled ‘Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’ is a comprehensive review of the world's freshwater resources and seeks to demonstrate, among other messages, that water underpins all aspects of development, and that a coordinated approach to managing and allocating water is critical. The Report underlines that in order to meet multiple goals water needs to be an intrinsic element in decision-making across the whole development spectrum.
"Water in a Changing World" builds on the work of previous studies, including the two previous WWDRs. However, the third edition of the Report presented several changes from the previous two editions. Unlike the earlier Reports, which were structured along UN agency lines, the third Report presented a new, more holistic format. A number of themes are addressed throughout the entire report, including climate change, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), groundwater, biodiversity, water and migration, water and infrastructure, and biofuels.
‘Water for People, Water for Life’ laid the foundation for subsequent editions of the WWDR, concentrating essentially on evaluating the level of progress made since the Rio Summit (1992) and on developing effective assessment methodologies. The Report encompasses a broad range of components, focusing on human stewardship of freshwater, that complex aggregation of policies, legislation, social programmes, economic approaches and management strategies through which to achieve water sustainability.
The WWDR 1 opens with a chapter describing the water crisis. It then reviews progress and trends, proposes methodologies and indicators for measuring sustainability, and assesses progress in the following 11 challenge areas: water and cities, securing the food supply, water and energy, cleaner industry, meeting basic needs, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, valuing water, governing water wisely, ensuring the knowledge base, and managing risks. It also presents seven pilot case studies of river basins representing various social, economic and environmental settings.