2021 State of Climate Services: Water


Published by: WMO ; 2021

More than 2 billion people are living in countries under water stress and 3.6 billion people face inadequate access to water at least one month per year. Meanwhile, water-related hazards have increased in frequency for the past 20 years. Since 2000, flood-related disasters have increased by 134%, and the number and duration of droughts also increased by 29%.

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is vital to achieving long-term social, economic and environmental well-being. But, although most countries have advanced their level of IWRM implementation, 107 countries remain off track to hit the goal of sustainably managing their water resources by 2030 (UN SDG 6).

This latest WMO report explores the progress made by WMO Members in using climate services to address water-related challenges – and highlights the gaps in user engagement, forecasting, observing networks, and data collection that still exist.

The WMO assessment in this report found, for WMO Member countries (101) for which data are available, that:

• There is inadequate interaction among climate services providers and information users in 43% of WMO Members;

• Data is not collected for basic hydrological variables in approximately 40% of WMO Members;

• Hydrological data is not made available in 67% of WMO Members;

• End-to-end riverine flood forecasting and warning systems are absent or inadequate in 34% of WMO Members that provided data

– with only 44% of Members’ existing systems reaching more than two-thirds of the population at risk;

• End-to-end drought forecasting and warning systems are lacking or inadequate in 54% of WMO Members that provided data – with only 27% of Members’ existing systems reaching more than two-thirds of the population at risk.

Achieving the adaptation objectives in developing countries’ NDCs will require significant additional financial commitments. Yet, several constraints limit countries’ capacity to access financing, including low capacities for developing and implementing projects, and difficulties to absorb resources within low-income countries’ public financial systems. Despite a 9% increase in financial pledges made to tackle SDG 6, official development assistance (ODA) commitments remained stable at US$ 8.8 billion, despite increased funding needs to meet targets under the SDG6 – between 2015 and 2019.

Droughts are the top killer in Africa among weather-, water- and climate related hazards, claiming more than 695 000 lives in the past 50 years.


Based on its findings, the report makes six strategic recommendations to improve the implementation and effectiveness of climate services for water worldwide:

1. Invest in Integrated Resources Water Management as a solution to better manage water stress, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs);

2. Invest in end-to-end drought and flood early warning systems in at-risk LDCs, including for drought warning in Africa and flood warning in Asia;

3. Fill the capacity gap in collecting data for basic hydrological variables which underpin climate services and early warning systems;

4. Improve the interaction among national level stakeholders to co-develop and operationalize climate services with information users to better support adaptation in the water sector. There is also a pressing need for better monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic benefits, which will help to showcase best practices;

5. Fill the gaps in data on country capacities for climate services in the water sector, especially for SIDS; 6. Join the Water and Climate Coalition11 to promote policy development for integrated water and climate assessments, solutions and services, and benefit from a network of partners that develop and implement tangible, practical projects, programs and systems to improve hydroclimate services for resilience and adaptation


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