Building peace in the minds of men and women

Knowledge Forum on Water Security and Climate Change

Addressing Water Security

Water security is defined as “the capacity of a population to safeguard access to adequate quantities of water of an acceptable quality for sustaining human and ecosystem health on a watershed basis, and to ensure efficient protection of life and property against water-related hazards such as floods, landslides, land subsidence, and droughts” in the strategic document of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP-VIII- 2014-2021) (UNESCO, 2012).

Achieving water security is a huge challenge, particularly in this twenty-first century which is characterized by tremendous changes that affect water security. Unprecedented population growth, a changing climate, rapid urbanization, expansion of infrastructure, migration, land use change, and pollution translate into changes in the fluxes, pathways and forms of water—from rapidly melting glaciers to the decline of groundwater due to overexploitation. Watersheds, aquifers and the associated ecosystems have undergone significant modifications which affect the quality and availability of water. Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress (WWDR, 2019). This number is expected to further increase due to the expected increase in water demand and climate change (WWDR, 2019).

In this context, and with the support from Flanders Trust fund for Science (FUST), UNESCO initiated the project “Addressing Water Security: Climate Impacts and Adaptation Responses in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean”. The main goal of the project was to implement activities focused on developing adaptation strategies in order to contribute to achieving water security in the face of climate change, with a particular focus on mountainous, arid and semi-arid regions of the world.