With the release of this third edition of The United Nations World Water Development Report, it is clear that urgent action is needed if we are to avoid a global water crisis. Despite the vital importance of water to all aspects of human life, the sector has been plagued by a chronic lack of political support, poor governance and underinvestment. As a result, hundreds of millions of people around the world remain trapped in poverty and ill health and exposed to the risks of water-related disasters, environmental degradation and even political instability and conflict. Population growth, increasing consumption and climate change are among the factors that threaten to exacerbate these problems, with grave implications for human security and development.
The current Report provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of the world's freshwater resources. It also, for the first time, shows how changes in water demand and supply are affected by and affect other global dynamics. It represents a considerable collaborative achievement for the 26 UN agencies that make up UN-Water and are engaged in the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), which leads the monitoring and evaluation behind the Report. UNESCO is very proud to have played a pivotal role in the launch of this flagship programme and to continue to support its work by housing the WWAP Secretariat. I am confident that this third volume will prove crucial as a working tool for policy-makers and other stakeholders, providing solid evidence from which to develop an effective and sustainable approach to water issues.