This report documents the serious water crisis we are facing at the beginning of the 21st century. This crisis is one of water governance, essentially caused by the ways in which we mismanage water. But the real tragedy is the effect it has on the everyday lives of poor people, who are blighted by the burden of water-related disease, living in degraded and often dangerous environments, struggling to get an education for their children and to earn a living, and to get enough to eat. The executive summary offers an analysis of the problem as well as pilot case studies for water management and recommendations for future action.
- Pressures on the inland water system are increasing with population growth and economic development. Critical challenges lie ahead in coping with progressive water shortages and water pollution There is pressure on the Asian continent, in particular, which supports more than half the world's population with only 36% of the world's water resources.
- Challenges to the uses of and demands on water include: basic needs and the right to health; protecting ecosystems; managing competing needs in an urban environment; securing food for a growing world population; promoting cleaner industry; and developing energy to meet development needs.
- Challenges to water management include: mitigating risk and coping with uncertainty; sharing water among its different uses and different users; water valuation; ensuring a knowledge base; and governing water wisely for sustainable development.
- While the negative impacts of each challenge on the poor are bad enough in and of themselves, the really poor suffer a combination of most, and sometimes all, of the problems in the water sector.