Section 1: Changing contexts
Chapter 1: Living in a changing world
Emphasizing the central role of water use and allocation in poverty alleviation and socio-economic development, this chapter discusses some of the many ways in which demographic and technological change, globalization and trade, climate variability, HIV/AIDS, warfare, etc., affect and are impacted by water. Key concepts of water management, sustainability and equity are introduced, as is the pivotal role of the many activities of the UN system in the water sector.
Chapter 2: The challenges of governance
Recognizing that the water crisis is largely a crisis of governance, this chapter outlines many of the leading obstacles to sound and sustainable water management: sector fragmentation, poverty, corruption, stagnated budgets, declining levels of development assistance and investment in the water sector, inadequate institutions and limited stakeholder participation. While the progress towards reforming water governance remains slow, this chapter provides recommendations for balancing the social, economic, political and environmental dimensions of water.
Chapter 3: Water and human settlements in an urbanizing world
Increasing population growth is creating major problems worldwide. Growing urban water supply and sanitation needs, particularly in lower- and middle-income countries, face increasing competition with other sectors. Rising incomes in other portions of the world population fuel demand for manufactured goods and environmental services and amenities, all of which require water. This chapter emphasizes the scale of the growing urban water challenges, pointing out that nearly one-third of urban dwellers worldwide live in slums.
Section 2: Changing natural systems
Chapter 4: The state of the resource
This chapter reviews the main components of the water cycle and provides an overview of the geographical distribution of the world's total water resources, their variability, the impacts of climate change and the challenges associated with assessing the resource.
Chapter 5: Coastal and freshwater ecosystems
Natural ecosystems, rich in biodiversity, play a critical role in the water cycle and must be preserved. In many areas, a variety of pressures on freshwater ecosystems are leading to their rapid deterioration, affecting livelihoods, human well-being and development. To reverse this trend, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity must become a fundamental component of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Section 3: Challenges for well-being and development
Chapter 6: Protecting and promoting human health
The state of human health is inextricably linked to a range of water-related conditions: safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, minimized burden of water-related disease and healthy freshwater ecosystems. Urgent improvements in the way in which water use and sanitation are managed are necessary for improving progress towards meeting the MDGs related to human health.
Chapter 7: Water for food, agriculture and rural livelihoods
The demand for food is not negotiable. As the largest consumer of freshwater, the agriculture sector faces a critical challenge: producing more food of better quality while using less water per unit of output, and reducing its negative impacts on the complex aquatic ecosystems on which our survival depends. Better water management leads to more stable production and increased productivity, which in turn enhance the livelihoods and reduce the vulnerability of rural populations. This chapter examines the challenges of feeding a growing population and balancing its water needs with other uses, while contributing to sustainable development in rural areas.
Chapter 8: Water and industry
Despite industry's need for clean water, industrial pollution is damaging and destroying freshwater ecosystems in many areas, compromising water security for both individual consumers and industries. This chapter focuses on industry's impact on the water environment through its routine water withdrawal and wastewater discharge, analysing a broad range of regulatory instruments and voluntary initiatives that could improve water productivity, industrial profitability and environmental protection.
Chapter 9: Water and energy
To be sustainable, economic development needs an adequate and steady supply of energy. Today's changing contexts require the consideration of a range of strategies to incorporate hydropower generation and other renewable forms of energy production to improve energy security while minimizing climate-changing emissions. This chapter stresses the need for the cooperative management of the energy and water sectors to ensure sustainable and sufficient supply of both energy and water.
Section 4: Management responses and stewardship
Chapter 10: Managing risks: Securing the gains of development
The climate is changing, thus increasing the occurrence and intensity of water-related natural disasters and creating greater burdens on human and environmental development. Employing an integrated approach, this chapter explores some of the ways of better reducing human vulnerabilities and examines the recent developments in risk reduction strategies.
Chapter 11: Sharing water
Increasing competition for water resources can have potentially divisive effects. Mechanisms for cooperation and shared governance among users must be further developed in order to ensure that the resource become a catalyst for cooperation and a medium for deterring political tensions, while encouraging equitable and sustainable development.
Chapter 12: Valuing and charging for water
Water has a range of values that must be recognized in selecting governance strategies. Valuation techniques inform decision-making for water allocation, which promote not only sustainable social, environmental and economic development but also transparency and accountability in governance. This chapter reviews techniques of economic valuation and the use of these tools in water policy development and charging for water services.
Chapter 13: Enhancing knowledge and capacity
The collection, dissemination and exchange of water related data, information and know-how are imbalanced and, in many cases, deteriorating. It is now more urgent than ever to improve the state of knowledge concerning water-related issues through an effective global network of research, training and data collection and by implementing more adaptive, informed, and participatory approaches at all levels.
Section 5: Sharing responsibilities
Chapter 14: Case studies: Moving towards an integrated approach
These 16 Case Studies from around the world examine typical water resource challenges and provide valuable on-the-ground insights into the facets of the water crisis and different management responses:
Chapter 15: Conclusions and recommandations for action
The Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (Spain)
Danube River Basin (Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine)
Lake Peipsi (Estonia, Russian Federation)
Lake Titicaca (Bolivia, Peru)
The State of Mexico
Mongolia (Tuul Basin)
La Plata Basin (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay)
Drawing on the essential points and key messages presented throughout the Report, this chapter weaves together a set of conclusions and recommendations to guide future action and enhance the sustainable use, productivity and management of the world's increasingly scarce freshwater resources.