UNESCO Presents “Water in a Changing World” Report

New report highlights crucial role of water in development

12 March 2009: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has presented the UN World Water Development Report 3, which will be launched at the Fifth World Water Forum, scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, from 16-22 March 2009. The Report, coordinated by the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), is the result of a cooperative effort by the 26 UN agencies and entities that make up UN-Water.

The UN World Water Development Report is produced every three years by the WWAP, whose secretariat is hosted by UNESCO, and provides a comprehensive assessment of the Earth's freshwater resources. This last edition titled “Water in a Changing World,” emphasizes the role of water in development and economic growth. The authors underline that water demand has reached record-highs and will increase due to population growth, rising living standards, and increased energy production, including biofuels.

On the effects of climate change on water resources, the report emphasizes the consensus existing among scientists that it will intensify and accelerate the global hydrological cycle, which could lead to increased rates of evaporation and precipitation. Despite remaining uncertainty as to the effects of these changes on water resources, a shortage of water is expected to have repercussions on water quality and the frequency of extreme events such as drought and flooding. The Report further projects that by 2030, 47% of the world population will be living in areas of high water stress, especially in Africa, with 24 to 700 million people expected to be displaced because of water scarcity. [UNESCO Press Release]