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Chapter 8: Water Resources

GLO chapter 8

Today the world faces growing problems relating to land-water interactions and water security, which have reached crisis levels in many countries and regions. Key issues include over-use and waste; fluctuations in abundance, with an increasing frequency of both droughts and floods; poor water quality with impacts on environmental and human health; and the knock-on effects of land degradation. This chapter discusses seven distinct aspects of water insecurity:

  1. Water shortages leading to temporary or long-term impacts on supply
  2. Poor water quality for human consumption and within the wider environment
  3. Rising number of extreme climatic events including floods and droughts
  4. Disruption of natural flows in a growing number of rivers and inland water bodies
  5. Land degradation as a result of altered hydrology and poor irrigation management
  6. Climate change impacts due to greenhouse gas emissions from water systems and wetlands
  7. Loss of biodiversity and water-related ecosystem Services

An integrated approach to global water security

Improving water security requires an integrated, cross-sectoral approach which capitalizes on the links between the land management practices and the health of hydrological systems. Key elements of an integrated approach to water management include:

  • Managing water resources through sustainable land management, especially in agriculture
  • Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems for water-related goods and services
  • Working towards sustainable cities
  • Policy reform at a local, national, and international level

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water and sanitation includes an emphasis on improving water quality (target 6.3) and protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems (target 6.6). Improved water management is also a critical component of SDG 2, on food security, and SDG 15 to combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.

chapter 8

Chapter 8: Water Resources

An integrated approach to land and water resource management is essential: this entails reducing demand and increasing use efficiency, protecting and restoring wetlands and watersheds in our working landscapes, providing incentives for sustainable use, and designing more sustainable cities.


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