Press Release

10th World Water Forum: UNESCO mobilizes the international community for sustainable water management

20 May 2024


Bali, 20 May - UNESCO will promote international cooperation and innovative solutions to tackle the pressing global water challenges at the 10th World Water Forum from May 18-24 in Bali, Indonesia. The 2024 edition, held under the theme “Water for Shared Prosperity”, will bring together policymakers, scientists, and stakeholders from around the world and result in a joint global commitment to water availability and water cooperation.

This year’s World Water Forum, co-led by UNESCO, will emphasize the critical links between water management and climate disruption, highlighting how enhanced cooperation and better data collection can steer the world toward water security and resilience. UNESCO will be championing three core objectives: enhancing cooperation on water, improving knowledge and data collection, increasing education and awareness on water-related issues.

"As we face increasing water scarcity and climate variability, it’s imperative that we increase international cooperation to sustainably measure and manage water resources together and train and empower a new generation of water professionals." - Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

Increasing cooperation on transboundary water 
From rivers and lakes to transboundary aquifers, states urgently need to collaborate and cooperate in managing the shared water resources that flow freely across their national borders.

The first step often lies in identifying shared water sources. As the leading organization for monitoring transboundary aquifers, UNESCO has helped to identify transboundary systems across 153 countries, including 468 aquifers and 286 rivers and lakes.

UNESCO’s decade-long Governance of Groundwater Resources in Transboundary Aquifers project (GGRETA) has provided assessment, governance and policy aspects of transboundary aquifers across three continents, in addition to other localized programmes in West-Africa, the Mediterranean, the Balkans and South America.

A shared water framework can be a major catalyst for collective development, however, only a minority of riparian countries have transboundary agreements in place. A best practice case lies in the Senegal River Basin where the Manantali Dam, while physically located in Mali, is collectively owned and managed by Senegal River Basin Development Authority which contributes to the energy sector of the countries of the basin (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal), producing electricity at lower cost and from a clean source.

Improving knowledge and data collection on water
Since the 1980s, data collection on water has worsened and there is an urgent need to harness technological advances to improve it.

UNESCO plays a vital role in harmonizing and making water data and knowledge available through its Water Information Network System, a database of global and local water information which allows stakeholders to make informed decisions. Complementary to this, UNESCO’s Open Learning Platform helps users develop skills they need to turn this raw data into actionable insights.

As water and climate are intrinsically and increasingly linked, UNESCO has developed the Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) methodology to manage water resources in water-stressed areas by using a participatory, bottom-up approach that efficiently identifies hydro-climatic vulnerabilities. Flood and Drought Early Warning Systems have been implemented in Africa.

In addition to data coming from advanced technologies such as satellite surveillance, UNESCO calls for governments to invest more in training local communities to provide ground-truth data to complement, confirm and calibrate these measurements.

Systemic inefficiencies must also be addressed: today it is estimated that 5%-50% of water never reaches its destination due to leaky pipes and faulty systems. Improving the identification and resolution of these leaks represents a major opportunity to reduce water scarcity worldwide.

Increase awareness and understanding of water issues
Training a new generation of water professionals who can advise governments to implement water policies that take into account economic, social, political, health and agricultural impacts, will be key to combat water scarcity in the future.

Each year, UNESCO and its partners trains around 20,000 people through a network of 29 Category-2 research centers, 84 UNESCO university chairs and national committees. This network improves and reinforces the knowledge exchange between countries and provides courses, training and activities on specific water issues.

UNESCO also works to increase water education for the general public, and especially children and youth. UNESCO’s awareness campaigns, including through the Global Network of Water Museums comprised of 89 institutions across 38 countries educate 10 million visitors per year on topics ranging from water science to water usage in daily life.

UNESCO also calls for a more inclusive approach to addressing water issues: ancestral knowledge and know-how related to water hold many solutions for sustainably managing this resource. UNESCO's LINKS programme is working to support indigenous peoples in sharing their approaches and methods of water management, governance and rights issues.


With 194 Member States, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization contributes to peace and security by leading multilateral cooperation on education, science, culture, communication and information. Headquartered in Paris, UNESCO has offices in 54 countries and employs over 2300 people. UNESCO oversees more than 2000 World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and Global Geoparks; networks of Creative, Learning, Inclusive and Sustainable Cities; and over 13 000 associated schools, university chairs, training and research institutions. Its Director-General is Audrey Azoulay.

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed” – UNESCO Constitution, 1945.

More information:


Press contact
Siska Widyawati, National Information Officer UNIC,  087884885489
Aisyah Camila Agusty, Public Information Officer UNESCO, 0817456770

Aisyah Camila Agusty

Public Information Officer UNESCO

Siska Widyawati

National Information Officer

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