World Resource Institute

Water Action Track

For more information or to get involved, please contact Betsy Otto and Fred Boltz.


The world faces urgent and daunting water-related challenges, from extreme drought and flooding, to gradual changes in water available for agriculture, industry, cities, and nations. The Global Commission on Adaptation’s landmark report, Adapt Now, emphasizes that water is central to our effort to understand, anticipate, and adapt to climate change and climate-related stresses. To thrive under climate change, humanity faces two urgent imperatives: 1) Sustaining an Earth system with a suitable environment and 2) Building the resilience of human systems. Water is vital to both imperatives.

Action Track Goal

By 2030, significantly improve the resilience of natural and managed water systems and of the critical human systems dependent upon water, reducing risks to the estimated 2.5 billion people facing high water stress and 150 million annually impacted by floods and droughts.

Meeting these goals requires work at interdependent, often fragmented scales of natural systems and human governance: strengthening national preparedness and adaptation, fostering basin-scale water system resilience, and building the resilience of human systems reliant on water. Responding to these imperatives and urgent goal, the Commission has mobilized a whole of society movement to accelerate water adaptation and resilience, through three linked global initiatives:

1. Country Preparedness for Water Extremes

By 2030, assist at least 50 countries in addressing climate change risks in their water systems, in efforts aligned with their NDCs. This includes integrated planning and execution of comprehensive flood and drought management and building preparedness for and risk mitigation of water extremes.

2. Resilient Basin Futures

By 2030, support efforts in at least 100 river and groundwater basins to plan and finance climate adaptation and resilience measures. Strengthen ecological resilience and address the water security and resilience needs of all sectors, particularly agriculture, energy, industry, and urbanizing regions.

3. City Water Resilience

By 2030, support at least 100 cities to develop and implement integrated urban water resilience planning and investment to address vulnerabilities in water-related infrastructure and management.

Our Agenda for the Year of Action

  • Build partnerships for a decade of concerted action to build water resilience, mobilizing over 30 global leaders from public, private and civil society.
  • Develop a Roadmap to 2030 for the Water Action Track, identifying a pathway to action that can scale across critical regions, deploy knowledge and proven solutions, and mobilize financing to build a global response commensurate with our climate challenge.
  • Synthesize and mainstream best practice methods, tools and technologies with leading technical partners, through knowledge networks and development finance and policy agencies.
  • Advance exemplars of country, basin, and city water resilience practices, building water resilience as we establish models of excellence to further inspire global efforts.
  • Engage the Commission as well as global climate and development leaders from private, public, and civil society sectors to build political will, catalyze ambitious action, and mobilize resources at scale.

Key Events and Milestones

Below are select key milestones and events for 2020, where Commissioners and partners can engage and support the Action Track:

  • March 22 – World Water Day
  • March TBD - Resilient Basins Design Lab (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • April TBD - City Water Resilience Design Lab (Miami, USA)
  • April 27-30 - Adaptation Futures (Delhi, India)
  • July 5-9 - Singapore Water Week & World Cities Summit (Marina Bay Sands, Singapore)
  • July 7-17 - UN High Level Political Forum (New York, USA)
  • August - City Water Resilience Design Lab (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • August 22-28 - World Water Week (Stockholm, Sweden)
  • September - Resilient Basins Design Lab (Bangkok, China or San Francisco, USA)
  • October 21 - Mayor’s Summit & Water Summit (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
  • October 22 - Climate Adaptation Summit (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • November 09-19 - COP26 (Glasgow, UK)

Water Action Track Partners include: