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Written by Himani Gautam of Calcutta University, Kolkata.

Edited by Ishita Mangla.

The World Water Development Report 2020 named ‘Water and Climate Change’ aims to assist the water community all over the world. It tackles with the challenges of climate change and informing the climate change community about the opportunities. It has improved and further offers water management regarding adaptation and mitigation. The climate is changing and will keep on changing, affecting societies mainly through the water. The 2020 United Nations World Water Development Report centers around the challenges, opportunities and potential reactions to climate change, concerning adaptation, mitigation and improved resilience that addressed through the water management. Consolidating climate change adaptation & mitigation, through water, is a win-win proposal, improving the arrangement of water gracefully, sanitation administrations, combating both the causes and impacts of climate change, including disaster hazard decrease.

The development of the WWDR, coordinated by the World Water Assessment Program, is a joint effort of the UN agencies and entities which make up UN-Water, working in partnership with governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and different stakeholders. The WWDR was originally a triennial report and the initial four editions were launched in conjunction with the World Water Forum in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012. The triennial rendition gave an overall image of the state, uses and management of the world’s freshwater assets. If the stream usage patterns don’t change, the world will have quite recently 60% of the water it needs in 2030, it said. Unless the balance among demand and finite supplies is restored, the world will face an increasingly serious global water deficit, the annual World Water Development Report said, noticing that more proficient use could guarantee enough flexibly later on.

The report, released in New Delhi two days before World Water Day, calls on policymakers and communities to rethink about the water policies, asking more conservation as well as recycling of wastewater as is done in Singapore. Countries may also have to think about raising water prices, as well as searching for ways to make water-intensive sectors more effective and less polluting. In many countries including India, water use is largely unregulated and regularly wasteful. Pollution of water is frequently disregarded and unpunished. Climate change has the situation more regrettable, as higher temperatures and more erratic weather patterns could upset rainfall. Unsustainable development pathways and governance failures have affected the quality and availability of water resources. It stated that economic development itself isn’t a guarantee for more extensive social progress .
Water use has increased six fold over the past century and is rising by about 1% a year. In any case, it is estimated that climate change, along with the increasing recurrence and force of outrageous occasions – tempests, floods and droughts, will aggravate the situation in countries which are already encountering ‘water stress’ and similar issues in areas that have not been seriously affected. Besides this, the report features the fact that helpless water management will in general exacerbate the impacts of climate change on water assets as well as on society all in all. Such a deteriorated situation would simply upset achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 which is a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to which, access to safe drinking water and sanitation must be guaranteed for all within ten years. This will be a considerable challenge for 2.2 billion individuals who presently don’t have access to safely managed drinking water, and 4.2 billion, or 55% of the world’s population, who are without safely managed sanitation .
The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, stresses that water shouldn’t be an issue – it very well may be part of the arrangement. Water can uphold efforts to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Chair of UN-Water, and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Gilbert F. Houngbo, says that, if we are not pretending about limiting global temperature which increases to underneath 2°C and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we should act immediately. There are answers for managing water and climate in a more coordinated manner and each sector of society has a task to carry out. We just cannot afford to wait as climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water required for basic human needs, accordingly undermining the enjoyment of the basic rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for billions of individuals, warns the latest UN World Water Development Report .

It has become now been said that water quality will be affected by increased water temperatures and a decrease in broke up oxygen, leading to a decrease in the self-purification capacity of freshwater basins. We will see increased dangers of water pollution and pathogen contamination caused by floods or higher concentrations of pollutants during times of the dry season. Many environments, particularly forests and wetlands, are also under threat, decreasing biodiversity. A great part of the impact of climate change on water assets will be manifested in the tropics, where most creating countries are located, with potentially apocalyptic ramifications for small island states, some of which could be cleared off the map.

Adaptation contains a combination of natural, technical and technological ideas, as well as social and institutional alternatives to mitigate damage and exploit a couple of positive results of climate change. It is probably going to have rapid benefits, mainly at the local level.
Mitigation comprises of the human actions expected to decrease greenhouse gases emissions while exploiting carbon sinks to diminish the amount of CO2 and different GHGs in the atmosphere. It can include large geographical areas, yet with gains that may spread over decades. In any case, the opportunities for mitigation in water management remain largely unrecognized .

These emissions arise from both the vitality required for wastewater treatment and the biochemical cycles utilized. In any case, since of the decomposition of the organic matter it contains, untreated wastewater is also a major wellspring of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The report brings up that wastewater harbors more vitality than is required for its treatment, given that it is harnessed. It is estimated that worldwide, somewhere in the range of 80% and 90% of wastewater is discharged to the earth with no form of treatment. Similarly, the ‘reuse’ of partially treated wastewater for agriculture and industry, without necessarily making it safe to drink, is another fascinating approach.

The climate is changing, and our world is in peril. Around a million animal and plant species face extinction, freshwater species have suffered the worst, falling by 84% since 1970. Humans also got affected by around four billion people currently experiencing severe physical water scarcity for a minimum of one month per annum, a situation that has been exacerbated by the climate crisis. As the planet warms, water has become one major issue in this global climate change. And yet the word “water” rarely appears in international climate agreements, although it plays a key role in issues like food security, energy production, economic development and poverty reduction. That is the goal of the 2020 World water project Report on water and global climate change. The report shows that water doesn’t get to be a drag – it is often a part of the answer. Water can support efforts to both mitigate and adapt to global climate change. Wetland protection, conservation agriculture and other nature-based solutions can help to sequester carbon in biomass and soils. Improved wastewater treatment can help reduce greenhouse emission emissions and produce biogas as a source of renewable energy. Coordinated and produced by UNESCO, this report shows results of close and continued collaboration within the UN-Water family. It had been made possible because of the government of Italy and the Region of Umbria, which has long supported the planet Water Assessment Programme. Water isn’t only a development, it’s also a basic right, peace and security around the world. The difficulty of water isn’t a task to be taken lightly. We must rise to the present challenge if we are to step in the future world to secure it for future generations.


World Water Day [2020]

Stefano Burchi, Chair, WCEL Water and Weltands Specialist Group, UNESCO Publishes World Water Development Report 2020 – Water and Climate Change [2020] Available here:

Supra Note 4.

United Nations Water, World Water Development Report, 2020; Available Here:

United Nations Water, World Water Development Report; Available Here:

Image Courtesy- Jagran Josh

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