Increasing pressures on water resources and escalating impacts of climate change undermine water security and contribute to conflict, migration, health crises and food and energy insecurity around the world. For example, the agricultural sector is greatly impacted by climate events, such as droughts, floods and storms, which account for 25% of economic losses and damages in developing countries, according to an FAO analysis. Accessible and reliable water data can make societies more climate resilient, provide early warning for drought or food shortages, preserve and restore vital ecosystems and help decision-makers more sustainably manage water and respond to extreme weather events.

Accurate and timely information on global water resource availability is essential for managing these growing risks and challenges.

Global Water Watch, supported by and the Water, Peace, and Security Partnership, will provide free, globally accessible, near-real-time and high-resolution spatiotemporal information on the amount of water stored in reservoirs and the water level and flow in major river systems.

World Resources Institute, Deltares and World Wildlife Fund are partnering to create this data platform, which will house information on thousands of global reservoirs and major river systems. The platform uses Earth Observation (EO) algorithms, satellite data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and machine learning to map dams and produce high-resolution spatiotemporal and granular (10m) information on the amount of water stored in reservoirs as well as water level and flow information in major river systems in near-real-time.

This data will help decision-makers respond quickly to extreme weather events, manage growing risks of climate change, make societies more climate resilient and preserve and restore our vital ecosystems and the many services they provide. National and subnational governments can use the data to manage water resources more sustainably, efficiently and equitably. Making this information publicly accessible will hold governments accountable for proper water stewardship and uncover water resource conditions in upstream states and nations, who may be reluctant to share data with downstream neighbors.

Use cases

  • Drought awareness: Assess the current state of drought and surface water resources on a global scale
  • Transboundary water management: Assess water resources in internationally-shared river basins and track trends and detect deviations from normal years
  • River basin and reservoir planning: Analyze stocks and balances, plan for growing seasons and manage abstraction permits with global data that complements local data on water use and demands