Water is one of the essential elements to human life. It is indispensable to our social and economic well-being. However, more than 780 million people – about 11% of the world’s population – do not have access to clean, safe water. Even more worrisome is the estimate that about half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. Furthermore, 70% of global freshwater resources goes to agriculture and irrigation, and only 10% to domestic uses. It is therefore not surprising that international agreements are focusing attention on the availability and sustainable management of clean and secure water resources. Such agreements include the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
WMO is the authoritative technical voice on weather, climate and water within the United Nations system. In addition to supporting various international frameworks, it is the lead technical agency for operational hydrology. The WMO Commission for Hydrology supports the National Hydrological Services of its Member States and Territories to develop and strengthen capabilities and services across the entire hydrological value chain, from monitoring to service delivery. Included within the Commission’s portfolio is the provision of guidance and assistance in real-time water data collection and data sharing, hydrological modelling and forecasting, flood early warning dissemination and water resources decision-support services. Although its various activities have traditionally focused on creating standards and capacity development, the Commission is increasingly emphasizing the need for sustaining operational capabilities. This shift in emphasis will hopefully provide National Hydrological Services of limited capacity with sustainable technological tools for long-term delivery of water information and services.
It is fitting that this special water edition of the WMO Bulletin draws attention to the programmes and activities of WMO in helping Member States and Territories to find solutions to the problems they face across the entire water resources value chain. It is particularly appropriate that this edition is being published on 22 March 2018, World Water Day, which marks the launch of the International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development. On this occasion, the eyes of the world are focused on this essential human need. It is my hope that the contents will provide the reader with an apprciation of the depth of commitment being made by WMO hydrological and meteorological communities in moving towards a world where all people are safe in face of increasing water-related hazards and have access to clean water.
Harry F. Lins Petteri Taalas
President, WMO Commission for Hydrology WMO Secretary-General