Only 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater; about two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps and we have long over-stretched this precious resource.



Water is the source of all life and
needs to be managed carefully


for people

+ 50 %

increase in global water demand by 2030

for nature

- 80%

decline in freshwater biodiversity since 1970

for security


of all natural disasters are water-related

How we engage

The mission of the IUCN Global Water Programme is to be a trusted partner for evidence-based and adaptive change in water resource management that benefits nature and people. We bring together our extensive network of IUCN Members, experts, government and private sector partners to develop sustainable solutions to manage water resources.

Our work focuses on water governance that integrates the needs of people and nature, the implementation of sustainable water resource management to secure water-related ecosystem services and conserve freshwater biodiversity, and support increased investment in ecosystems as natural water infrastructure. 


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  • In the spotlight:

    World Water Day: Leaving No One Behind

    Access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water and sanitation services are basic human rights, and yet, billions of people still lack these facilities. This World Water Day focuses on how we can overcome exclusion and inequality and ensure everyone has access to water and sanitation. 


    Share and follow us via @IUCN_Water to celebrate #WorldWaterDay and making sure we are #LeavingNoOneBehind in access to water and sanitation

  • In the spotlight:

    World Wetlands Day 2019

    2 February marks the day Wetlands are put in the spotlight. The theme this year is Wetlands & Climate Change.

    This year, together with the International Organising Partners (IOPs) of Ramsar  -WWF, Birdlife Intl, IWMI, Wetlands Intl, and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust- IUCN has produced three animated videos to illustrate the importance of wetlands and their role in climate change mitigation and adaption.

  • In the spotlight:

    Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future

    21-29 October 2018

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 21 to 29 October 2018. The theme for COP13 is “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”.

    Read More

  • In the spotlight:

    Plastic from source to sea

    As plastic is discarded into our waterways, rivers become conveyor belts of plastic waste, transporting this toxic cargo into the world's estuaries, deltas and oceans.

    This new visual story takes the reader from source to sea highlighting the importance of good river basin management in helping to tackle the global marine plastic pollution challenge. 

    Share and follow us via @IUCN_Water and @MARPLASTICCs to #beatplasticpollution

  • In the spotlight:

    World Water Week 2018

    Water, ecosystems and human development is the theme of this year's World Water Week. The conference will take place in Stockholm, Sweden from 26-31 August.

    IUCN leads several sessions and co-organises events and seminars. For a full overview of IUCN's activities during World Water Week, please click the link.

    Follow us on Twitter via @IUCN_Water at #WWWeek


Follow IUCN Water

Learn more

Cover: Women as change-makers Photo: ©IUCN Water

New report

Women as change-makers in the governance of shared waters


Wise Up Photo: © shutterstock Vladimir

WISE-UP to Climate

WISE-UP or 'Water Infrastructure Solutions from Ecosystem Services Underpinning Climate Resilient Policies and Programmes'


Bridge Map 2017 Photo: IUCN


BRIDGE - Building River Dialogue and Governance. This project aims to build water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership, and consensus-building, in particular in transboundary river basins.


Sugarcane grower, SUSTAIN Initiative, Tanzania Photo: Maria Ana Borges


Bridging water security and sustainable development. Building sustainable and inclusive growth to improve water and food security and climate resilience.


Quick reads

Aimed at policy-makers and journalists, IUCN Issues Briefs provide key information on selected issues in a two-pager format.

Thumbnail_CC and Water issues brief Photo: IUCN

Water and climate change

Water and weather, the delicate balance between evaporation and precipitation, is the primary cycle through which climate change is felt. As our climate changes, droughts, floods, melting glaciers,...

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