Water focus

September 2010. Water is where all life begins: We rely on it to grow our food, produce our goods and generate our energy. There is no substitute for water— every living thing depends on it.

And yet lack of water has become one of the world’s most pressing challenges. Only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water; about two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps and we have long over-stretched this precious resource.

Did you know...
  • Seventy percent of the Earth is covered by water yet only 2.5% of the world's water is fresh water, while 97.5% is oceans.
  • To ensure our basic needs, we all need 20 to 50 litres of clean water each and every day.
  • Approximately 70% of all available water is used for irrigation.


Population growth, industrial and agricultural development, pollution, wetland drainage, river channelization and deforestation causing sedimentation have all put a massive strain on the world’s freshwater systems.

Two billion people need water from 263 rivers that cross the borders of 145 countries. Competition over this finite supply can test the limits of peace. But analysts’ predictions of ‘water wars’ are proving premature as a new cooperation is emerging over sustainable water management. IUCN is playing a key role in making sure that there is enough water in the world for both people and nature. 

And this month is a busy one in the water policy arena. IUCN experts are taking part in Expo 2010 in Shanghai, World Water Week in Stockholm, 5–11 September and the International Water Association’s World Water Congress in Montreal, 19–24 September. 

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What's new?

Peter Paul van Dijk, IUCN/SSC Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises Specialist Group with Snapping turtle

What lies within

World Water Week traditionally focuses on the management of freshwater resources for human use. In 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, of all years, we should not forget that many plant and animal species also require freshwater in specific quantities, quality, and at specific times, says Dr William Darwall of IUCN’s Species Programme. …  

13 Sep 2010 | News story

Pangani Basin, Africa

The future of water in the face of climate change

There needs to be significant investment to solve the growing water crisis that threatens water supplies and water quality for both people and nature, says IUCN. Climate change makes the search for practical solutions for water management increasingly urgent. The call for increased funding comes as more than 2500 decision makers and leaders from the global water community are meeting in Stockholm, Sweden from 5 to 11 September, for World Water Week, where the theme of this year’s conference is “Responding to Global Changes – Prevention, Wise Use and Abatement”. …  

06 Sep 2010 | International news release

Oreochromis karongae. Endangered on the IUCN Red List.  Found in lake Malawi, East Africa

African freshwater species threatened - livelihoods at stake

Twenty-one per cent of freshwater species in continental Africa are threatened with extinction, putting the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. With so much to lose, inland waters must be managed not just for their supply of freshwater but also to sustain the abundant life within. …   | French | Spanish

02 Sep 2010 | International news release


Message from the Deputy Director General

Learn more about today's water challenges and how IUCN is making sure that there's enough water in the world both for nature and for people.

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