The United Nations World Water Development Report 2020

Water and Climate Change

image of The United Nations World Water Development Report 2020

The 2020 edition of the WWDR, titled ‘Water and Climate Change’ illustrates the critical linkages between water and climate change in the context of the broader sustainable development agenda. Supported by examples from across the world, it describes both the challenges and opportunities created by climate change, and provides potential responses – in terms of adaptation, mitigation and improved resilience – that can be undertaken by enhancing water resources management, attenuating water-related risks, and improving access to water supply and sanitation services for all in a sustainable manner. It addresses the interrelations between water, people, environment and economics in a changing climate, demonstrating how climate change can be a positive catalyst for improved water management, governance and financing to achieve a sustainable and prosperous world for all. The report provides a fact-based, water-focused contribution to the knowledge base on climate change. It is complementary to existing scientific assessments and designed to support international political frameworks, with the goals of helping the water community 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.

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Climate change affects ecosystems, human societies and economies in a variety of ways, and water is the primary medium through which these impacts are felt. In some cases, these impacts are clearly obvious – for example through the increasing frequency and intensity of storms, floods and droughts. Increasing variability in the global water cycle implies greater water stress at different times and over different areas. The water-related impacts of climate change also include negative effects on food security, human health, energy production, and biodiversity, not to mention the daily livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable women, men and children. These in turn can lead (and have led) to rising societal inequities, social unrest, mass migration and conflict.

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