At the request of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development a global survey has been carried out to determine progress towards sustainable management of water resources using integrated approaches. Findings from the analysis of data from over 130 countries show that there has been widespread adoption of integrated approaches with significant impact on development and water management practices at the country level.
The country responses across all human development index (HDI) bands indicate that the main social impact over the past 20 years has been an improvement in water supply access. A number of countries in all HDI categories noted a contribution to improvements in human health, including a reduction in child mortality. It is clear that most countries register concern with the sustainability of natural ecosystems as well as with food and energy concerns. Many countries are taking an integrated approach to these concerns, but many more still need to do so. While water use efficiency is high priority in a good majority of countries, it is clear that introduction and implementation of water efficiency measures is, in general, lagging behind particularly in low HDI countries. In the lowest three HDI categories water efficiency is not perceived to be integrated into water resources management. Even for very high HDI countries less than 50% have advanced implementation or full implementation.
Since 1992, 80% of countries have embarked on reforms to improve the enabling environment for water resources management based on the application of integrated approaches. To ensure continued progress and positive outcomes in applying integrated approaches to water resources management, government and external support agencies should learn from experience and increase their efforts. The high country response to the survey demonstrates the value of reporting and emphasizes the need for a more rigorous, evidencebased, reporting system on progress with water resources development and management. Implementing integrated approaches to water resources management should remain a key component of future development paradigms.