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WMO emphasizes importance of data in global water management

London : The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has decided to revamp its strategy on water aiming to address unprecedented challenges posed by global water stress, floods and droughts and lack of access to clean supplies.

WMO is looking to strengthen hydrological services and to improve forecasting, monitoring and use of water supplies and to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water. WMO formally assumed the direction of the World Water Data Initiative, given that better data is key to better management of water. It also launched a new innovation call from the WMO HydroHub facility to support operational hydrology.

At a recent meeting of WMO's Executive Council, a special one-day dialogue on water was held.

“We need to put a much bigger emphasis on the effective, equitable and sustainable management of our water resources,” Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, told the high-level session.

“Intelligent water management should create benefits for everyone, as no one society can prosper long without sustainable access to clean and sufficient freshwater. If sustainably managed across sectors and societies, water has the power to build trust between communities and contribute to the broader establishment of peace and development efforts,” said Annan.

Climate change is placing an even greater stress on water supplies and increasing the risks of extreme weather events. Experts predict that by 2050, water-related climate impacts could depress GDP growth by as much as six per cent across much of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, said Annan, urging governments to deliver on the promises of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Executive Council has been discussing WMO water strategy cornerstones to address water challenges and develop better hydrological information and services to support the global agenda on sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate change.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 sets ambitious 2030 targets for clean water and sanitation, including implementation of integrated water resources management at all levels. As part of efforts to drive forward the sustainable development goals, a high-level panel on water was set up.

In March 2018, it issued a report entitled "Making Every Drop Count," with recommendations for various initiatives that were developed.

One of these initiatives is the World Water Data Initiative, which was implemented under the leadership of the Australian Government.

The report highlighted the importance of the World Water Data Initiative for informed decision-making in water resources management. It urged that this data initiative should continue its work in 'Phase II'. The Australian Government invited WMO to take the lead in the way forward and in shaping Phase II with a five-year roadmap.

“Ensuring reliable water data will be an essential and strategic part of managing this essential and most vital resource,” said Sally Mansfield, Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

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