• The impacts of climate change are clearly felt through water, with higher temperatures leading to droughts, floods, and rainfall variability, with low-income countries being impacted the most.
  • The World Bank’s Water Global Practice works across sectors to support its clients in delivering water for people, production, and the planet with the help of their Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership.
  • Collaboration with partners at national, regional, and global levels is needed to work towards a green, inclusive future.

The Global Water & Sanitation Partnership’s work over the past year has focused on helping countries respond to the water-related challenges of COVID-19 and climate change, and ultimately make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2021 Annual Report is out now and available here.


As we approach the end of 2021, we mark two years since COVID-19 began its devastating spread across the globe. We have learned many lessons during this time. We know water is essential to combating the disease—from washing hands with water and soap, to the water needed to run healthcare facilities. But it is also essential for our recovery as we work to reverse the widespread decline in human health and development resulting from the pandemic. We need water and sanitation for health, education, job creation, and a sustainable environment.

At the same time, the devastating effects of the climate crisis are becoming more apparent, and threaten to push millions more into poverty. Climate change is felt most deeply through water, with higher temperatures leading to droughts, floods, and rainfall variability. Low-income countries are particularly hard hit by these changes in the water cycle, leading to increased food insecurity and migration. Here, too, the solution lies in water: better planning and investment, better management and use, and better mitigation and adaptation responses.

The World Bank Group is focused on helping countries find solutions to their sustainable development challenges. It has mounted the largest crisis response in its history to help developing countries strengthen their capacity to deal with the pandemic. This response includes a framework for supporting green, resilient, and inclusive development that addresses both the devastation wrought by COVID-19 and the longer-term challenge of climate change. The Bank has also released an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan that aims to increase climate finance to reduce emissions, strengthen climate change adaptation, and align financial flows with the goals of the Paris Agreement. These efforts will help put countries on a path to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Water is the great connector in the context of today’s development challenges. The World Bank’s Water Global Practice works across sectors to support our clients in delivering water for people, production, and the planet. As shown in its recently released annual report, the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) acts as a linchpin in laying the groundwork for a water-secure future, shaping the World Bank’s policy dialogue with countries, providing advice and enhancing investments, and amplifying our voice on the global stage.

Despite the very real impact of the pandemic, the GWSP’s work continued and even intensified over the past year as we found ways to overcome constraints, work closely with our partner countries, and build on our previous successes. Our cutting-edge work on water and the circular economy, water storage, and water services will shape our efforts in the coming years.

water, health, environment

What is the Forum doing to address the global water challenge?

Water security – both sustainable supply and clean quality – is a critical aspect in ensuring healthy communities. Yet, our world’s water resources are being compromised.

Today, 80% of our wastewater flows untreated back into the environment, while 780 million people still do not have access to an improved water source. By 2030, we may face a 40% global gap between water supply and demand.

The World Economic Forum’s Water Possible Platform is supporting innovative ideas to address the global water challenge.

The Forum supports innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships including the 2030 Water Resources Group, which helps close the gap between global water demand and supply by 2030 and has since helped facilitate $1Billion of investments into water.

Other emerging partnerships include the 50L Home Coalition, which aims to solve the urban water crisis, tackling both water security and climate change; and the Mobilizing Hand Hygiene for All Initiative, formed in response to close the 40% gap of the global population not having access to handwashing services during COVID-19.

Want to join our mission to address the global water challenge? Read more in our impact story.

Inclusion is a priority that flows into every aspect of our work. The water challenge will not be solved until every person is included in society and is able to take an active role in finding common solutions. The GWSP’s focus on inclusion took center stage during the past year, influencing the global agenda for gender equality in the water workplace and leading to better management. As a result, many of our country partners have made inclusion more central to their work.

Our work in countries affected by fragility, conflict, and violence continues to grow, from innovative approaches to water and sanitation in the Dominican Republic, to a timely study of water resilience in Kiribati, to the building of much-needed capacity in Somalia.

Working towards a green, resilient, and inclusive future is not easy, but the burden is lighter when shared. The work we do in the water sector is not possible without strong collaboration with partners at national, regional, and global levels, and we are committed to deepening these engagements in future as we tackle tomorrow’s challenges together.