World Water Development Report 2020 ‘Water and Climate Change’

New York, United States of America
06 - Clean Water and Sanitation

“Water is the medium through which nature and human societies experience most of the impacts of climate change.”

---- World Water Development Report 2020

As the climate changes, so must our management of water. The 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2020) entitled ‘Water and Climate Change’ helps the water community to tackle the challenges of climate change and informs the climate change community about the opportunities that improved water management offers in terms of adaptation and mitigation.

On the occasion of World Water Day, UNESCO published WWDR 2020 on behalf of UN-Water, with contributions from UN entities. WWDR 2020 describes both the challenges and opportunities created by climate change, and provides potential responses that can be undertaken by enhancing water resources management. Key messages are as follows:

  • Climate change challenges the sustainability of water resources, which are already under severe pressure in many regions of the world, and amplifies water-related extremes including floods and droughts.
  • Water is the ‘climate connector’ that allows for greater collaboration and coordination across the majority of targets for sustainable development (2030 Agenda and its SDGs), climate change (Paris Agreement) and disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework).
  • While the need to address climate change through water is well recognized, this is not being translated into concrete action. Climate funds offer a great opportunity to provide additional financing for water.

In particular, embracing adaptation and mitigation measures through water is a triple-win solution. First, it benefits sustainable water resources management and the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. Second, it directly addresses both the causes and impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and energy savings. And third, it contributes, directly and indirectly, to meeting several of the SDGs (hunger, poverty, health, industry, and so on – not to mention SDG 6, the ‘water’ goal itself!).

Today, four billion people worldwide are forced to contend with water scarcity. Studies predict that accelerated global warming will so exacerbate the problem that by 2050, 52% of the earth’s population could be living in areas subjected to water stress. The first victims of this insufficiency will be girls and women... Action to save the planet and its water will not be useful in the long term unless we make sure that future generations are fully involved. That is the point of environmental education, which is also education about water and how we can better manage and preserve it.

Audrey Azoulay


Message from the Director-General of UNESCO    


Download the complete message in PDF format


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UN World Water Development Report 2020: Water and Climate Change
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Executive Summary
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Press release
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Main messages
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Facts and Figures    
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Suggested citation: UNESCO, UN-Water, 2020: United Nations World Water Development Report 2020:Water and Climate Change, Paris, UNESCO.