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Water crises threaten World Peace (report)

 GS3/GS1 Paper 

 Syllabus: Environment Conservation/ Geography


Source: UN


Context: The United Nations World Water Development Report 2024, published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water on World Water Day

  • World Water Day, observed annually on March 22, is a global initiative supported by the United Nations, dating back to 1993. This year’s theme is “Leveraging water for peace”


Key Highlights of the Report: 

  1. Current Status of Water Resources: Agriculture consumes 70% of freshwater withdrawals in the world. Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% in the past 60 years.
  2. Groundwater depleting: Cooperation over shared surface water is increasing, but groundwater resources are often neglected.
  3. Water’s Linkage to Peace and Prosperity:
    1. Water and Peace: Water scarcity can escalate local disputes, as observed in the Sahel region. Migration due to water scarcity can heighten tensions in settlement areas and exacerbate food insecurity.
    2. Water and Prosperity: Water sustains environmental integrity. In low and lower-middle-income countries, 70-80% of jobs depend on water. Water is crucial for inclusivity, as it affects girls and women’s education, economic participation, and safety.
  • Water and Food Production: Regions like Northwest India and North China are among the top three areas worldwide with high water-related risks to food production.
  1. Challenges in Achieving SDG 6: Half of the global population faces severe water scarcity at some point each year.
  2. Water-Prosperity Paradox: Developed water infrastructure can drive growth and prosperity, but only the wealthiest countries can afford such investments.


Key recommendations of the report:

  1. Emphasize sustainable management of water resources
  2. Advocate for increased private investment to achieve universal access to water by 2030
  3. Encourage industries to decouple water usage from production e.g., Tata Chemicals cut the use of groundwater by over 99% within a year through recycling and water management
  4. Boost international cooperation and transboundary agreements to address water-related tensions and maintain peace.
  5. Safeguard water resources and enhance global cooperation to mitigate water stress and conflicts.
  6. Prioritize achieving access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation for all by 2030.
  7. Address inequalities in water access, particularly among vulnerable populations like girls and women.
  8. Highlight successful cooperation models: E.g., Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin: It aims to establish a multilateral agreement for sustainable water management among Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia.
  9. Encourage states to enact policies ensuring fair and equitable access to water resources with support from the United Nations system.


Terms related to water:

Terms usedDefinition
Water scarcityLack of sufficient available water resources to meet water usage demands within a region
Water stressThe difficulty of obtaining fresh water sources during a period of time may lead to further depletion and deterioration of available water
Water shortage/deficitsShortages of water caused by climate change, pollution, increased human demand, and overuse of water
Water crisisA situation where the available potable, unpolluted water within a region is less than that region’s demand


Steps taken for Water Conservation:



  1. UN 2023 Water Conference: First global ‘Action Plan’recognizing that “all peoples have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs.”
  2. Private: IBM Sustainability Acceleratorfocused on water management
  3. Data and models: World Meteorological Organisation’s Hydrological Status and Outlook System, offered data analysis tools.
  4. Knowledge sharing: W12+ Blueprint, a UNESCO platform that hosts city profiles and case studies of programs (for cross cities learning)
  5. Capacity building: Making Rights Realinitiative offered to help marginalised communities and women understand how to exercise their rights.‘Water for Women Fund offered support mechanisms for more effective and sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene outcomes for women.
  6. NGOs: World Vision is committed to raising and investing $2 billion by 2030 to extend the impact of transformative water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services across 50 countries in six regions.
  7. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal 6includes a specific goal on water and sanitation (Goal 6)
  8. Dublin Principleswater was established as an “economic good”



  1. $50-billion commitment to improving rural drinking water services under its Jal Jeevan Mission.
  2. Jal Kranti Abhiyan
  3. National Water Mission
  4. National Rural Drinking Water Programme
  5. NITI Aayog Composite Water Management Index
  6. Jal Shakti Abhiyan
  7. Atal Bhujal Yojana


About UN-Water

It is an interagency mechanism, that was formed in 2003 and serves as the coordinating body for United Nations entities and international organizations working on water and sanitation issues. With over 30 UN organizations and 47 international partners, it ensures a unified response to water challenges. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, UN-Water facilitates coordinated action at global, regional, and country levels to address freshwater-related matters, including sanitation


Insta Links:


Prelims Link:

With reference to ‘Water Credit’, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2021)

It puts microfinance tools to work in the water and sanitation sector.

It is a global initiative launched under the aegis of the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.

It aims to enable poor people to meet their water needs without depending on subsidies.


Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3


Ans: C

Mains Link: 

What are the salient features of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan launched by the Government of India for water conservation and water security? (UPSC 2020)