About this report

Table of contents
Toward a world of thirst?ForewordExecutive summary Water and population

1. State of the world’s water

2. Freshwater resources3. Coastal and marine water4. Water and climate change

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has taken a lead position over the last 30 years, in assessing and monitoring the state of global water resources and their use and management. In collaboration with partners and collaborating centres, it collates and analyzes water resource data on a global scale.

In spite of a concerted effort to create a comprehensive database on global water use, many gaps still remain in the information available, which several projects and programmes are working to fill; among them the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA/LBA), Global Environment Monitoring System Freshwater Quality Programme (UNEP-GEMS/Water) and programmes dealing with fresh, coastal and marine waters from other United Nations’ agencies and partners.

This report, which is the 2008 updated version of the one published in 2002, has also greatly benefited from inputs and research provided by the international French language newspaper "Le Monde diplomatique". Its goal is to produce a clear overview, through a set of graphics, maps and other illustrations, of the current state of the world’s fresh, coastal and marine waters. It also illustrates the causes and effects of trends that threaten our water resources, with examples of areas of major concern and future scenarios for the use and management of fresh, coastal and marine waters.

It is hoped that this information will be useful to enable a general audience to better understand water issues and assist water users and professionals to make decisions that will protect our water resources for future generations.

This is a joint publication of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its collaborating centre GRID-Arendal in Norway. It is published as part of UNEP’s global water policy and strategy.

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