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:

    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

  • In the spotlight:

    Inclusion and Sustainability for African Growth Corridors

    SUSTAIN-Africa is an initiative aiming to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in African Growth Corridors.

    This new visual story shows how IUCN and partners are working on the ground, across different stakeholders and scales, to facilitate greening of growth that is inclusive and climate-resilient in Tanzania and Mozambique.  

    Click the title link for the full story, and share via our Twitter @IUCN_Water

  • In the spotlight:

    Champions of Water Governance

    A new IUCN Publication launched at the 8th World Water Forum - Leadership Building for Local to Transboundary Water Cooperation

    This thematic case study reviews the diverse experience of the ‘Champions’ component’ of BRIDGE in Mesoamerica, South America, in the Lower Mekong region and in the Lake Chad Basin, to examine the factors of success and draw lessons for future initiatives that may choose to rely on change makers to effect transformative change. 

  • In the spotlight:

    IUCN at the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia

    IUCN participated at the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil from 18-23 March 2018. The World Water Forum takes place every three years and is the global forum for dialogue and exchange on water. The overarching theme of the 8th WWF was ‘Sharing Water’.


    To follow us at the 8WWF, please check our Twitter or Facebook:

    Facebook: IUCN.Water

    Twitter: IUCN_Water      




  • A fisherman checking his net, Cambodia Photo: Finn Thilsted, World Fish Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Water for fish: Sustainable inland fisheries


    Inland fisheries are being overlooked in policy, management and development decisions, undermining the vital food and livelihood benefits they provide to the poor – Conservation International and Co-chair of IUCN Species Survival Commission Freshwater...

  • Spawning Stockeye Salmon Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters (CC BY 2.0)

    The Alliance for Freshwater Life is launched


    IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit helps launch The Alliance for Freshwater Life - new global network aiming to halt and reverse the ongoing freshwater biodiversity loss crisis - at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm - a blog from Freshwater...

  • Yudy Espinal from La Paz, Honduras, is an active member of the microwatershed council in the Goascorán River Basin Photo: © Wanda Villeda / IUCN

    New publication: Women as change-makers in the governance of shared waters


    Good water governance will be a cornerstone of global water security over the coming decades.  A central dimension of water security involves the protection, allocation and sharing of increasingly scarce and polluted water resources among humans and the...

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Learn more

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

New report

Women as change-makers in the governance of shared waters


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.


Wise Up Photo: © shutterstock Vladimir

WISE-UP to Climate

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


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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