The UN Think Tank on Water
Who We Are
The world is in the midst of a global water crisis – where lack of adequate freshwater supplies and poor management threaten the health of both humans and ecosystems. Each year, two million people are killed due to diseases caused by poor water quality and inadequate sanitation, and the health of millions more is harmed. Coastal oceans provide some 20% of the animal protein in the human diet, but are in a perilous state due to climate change and local degradation. These water problems will continue growing as world population climbs and climate change alters global water distribution patterns.
A critical factor contributing to the water crisis is the lack of indigenous capacity – educational, managerial, technological and institutional – for effective water management in many developing countries. UNU-INWEH acts as the “UN Think Tank on Water” and contributes to the resolution of the global water challenge through a unique programme of applied research and education. It conceives, develops, and manages water initiatives that help developing countries build their capacity for lasting improvements in human and ecosystem health, and overall reduction in poverty.
The United Nations University is not a traditional university in the sense of having a faculty, campus, or students. We respond directly to the regional and global water crisis and facilitate efforts to meet UN Development goals by providing a scientific evidence base. UNU-INWEH carries out its work in cooperation with other research institutions, international organizations, individual scholars, and scientists throughout the world.
UNU-INWEH’s vision is to create a world free of water problems where sustainable human development and environmental health and security are assured for all.
UNU-INWEH’s mission is to help resolve pressing water challenges that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States, and their people, through:
- Knowledge-based synthesis of existing bodies of scientific discovery;
- Cutting-edge targeted research that identifies emerging policy issues;
- Application of on-the-ground scalable solutions based on credible research; and,
- Relevant and targeted public outreach.
Encompassing the core values enshrined in the UN Charter, particular attention is given to the following:
- Improvement in human wellbeing through the provision of safe water and access to adequate sanitation, now recognized by the UN as a human right;
- Ensuring sustainable economic growth, achievement of peace and security, and reduction in poverty through management of water resources, access to essential water services, and promotion of ecosystem health;
- Fostering gender equity through development of opportunities for and empowerment of women and men; and
- Ensuring accountability and transparency for resources and results in all actions.
Our Research Programmes
Water and Human Development – leading the development of a global community of best practice that identifies, synthesizes, evaluates, generalizes, and disseminates practical methods and innovative approaches to accelerate solutions to global and regional challenges at the interface of water and human development. This programme tackles three inter-connected and closely linked challenges: ensuring water-health security; safeguarding and sustaining water availability; and, securing food supply for all.
Water and Ecosystems – focusing on enhanced capacity and research to improve scientific understanding of critical dryland, freshwater, and coastal ecosystem functions and management approaches adapted to a changing environment. This programme also explores integrated holistic management approaches to foster sound policies for water and its important role in protection of ecosystems and conservation of ecosystem services.
Our Work – View our current projects here.