The second United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) was launched on Thursday with the spotlight turning on governance systems as key to determining the availability of the commodity.
The report says that although unevenly distributed, the world has plenty of freshwater. “However, mismanagement, limited resources and environmental changes mean that almost one-fifth of the planet’s population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 40 percent lack access to basic sanitation.
The triennial report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of freshwater resources. It was presented to the media in Mexico City on the even of the Fourth World Water Forum to take place there next week. A similar launch was done at the UN offices in Nairobi.
Entitled Water, a shared responsibility, the edition focuses on the importance of governance in managing the world’s water resources and tackling poverty. Governance systems, it says, “determine who gets what water, when and how, and decide who has the right to water and related services.”
Such systems are not limited to ‘government’ but include local authorities, the private sector and civil society. They also cover a range of issues intimately connected to water, from health and food security, to economic development, land use and the preservation of the natural ecosystems on which our water resources depend.
UN-HABITAT contributed chapter three of the WWDR and the agency gives figures of worldwide urban populations from 1950 to the present and future projections. The agency says that the main water related urban challenge in low and middle-income nations remains ensuring adequate provision for water and sanitation and sustainable waste water management.
A section of the chapter focuses on changes that support ‘pro-poor- governance for water and sanitation. Better water and sanitation could improve the lives of millions of urban dwellers who are currently unserved or inadequately served by formal utilities.
In Nairobi, UN-HABITAT official Graham Alabaster outlined at an international press conference the work the agency was engaged in especially around the Lake Victoria region in efforts to ensure adequate water provision.
Download the 2nd UN World Water Development Report
[PDF format - 20 MB]