Three interlinked and rapidly advancing crises threaten our planet: climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. These planetary crises have direct, and often disproportionate, impacts on freshwater bodies; ones that propagates to the human and natural systems reliant on them. At the same time, when functional, freshwater bodies play an important role in mitigating and adapting to all three crises.
Despite their vital role in safeguarding planetary and human health, freshwater bodies are not being adequately protected. Recent UN progress reports reveal the world is not on track to meet water-related SDGs, nor is it in the position to deliver long-term sustainability by 2050. Worldwide freshwater action is urgently needed if these negative trends are to be reversed.
Through this new document on Freshwater Strategic Priorities, UNEP aims to support the implementation of its Medium-Term Strategy, 2022-2025, and facilitate measurable and substantive progress on freshwater issues at global, regional, and national levels. The document was produced by the Inter-Divisional Water Group: a community of practice across UNEP of which UNEP-DHI is a member. At its core, the paper strives to create awareness of the state of freshwater ecosystems and the importance of protecting and restoring them, and to inspire inter-organization collaboration for the benefit of freshwater, ecosystems, people, and economies.