Without monitoring how do we know about the problems, where they are and where we should focus our efforts? New approaches – digital transformation and social engagement – make global environment monitoring so much more accessible and valuable for the community, private sector and governments.

Andrea Hinwood – UNEP Chief Scientist

Water quality is naturally influenced by the climatological and geochemical location of the water body through temperature, rainfall, leaching, and run off of elements from the Earth’s crust. However, most surface water bodies around the world are also affected by impacts from human activities, particularly the discharge of waste products (including sewage and plastics) or addition of sediments, salts and minerals with run-off from agriculture and urban settlements. Recognizing that water is essential for human health, well-being and livelihoods, ecosystem functioning and services, and the survival of all living species, there is an urgent need to better understand the current drivers and pressures affecting the quality of this vital resource and drivers of its degradation.

Explore the Data - Information and Knowledge

Readily accessible freshwater – which is found in rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers – accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s water. As the global human population grows, so too do the demands for water. At the same time, human activity and climate change are disrupting natural water cycles, putting freshwater ecosystems under pressure. Poor water management, pollution, infrastructure development and resource extraction further exacerbate the negative impacts on our freshwater systems. Therefore, it is important to provide the world community with sound data on freshwater quality to support scientific assessments and decision-making:

  Water Water Quality IWRM Ecosystem

WESR: Water

WESR: African Cities

GEMStat Data Portal

GEMStat Water Quality Dashboard

Story maps – GEMS/Water


Flood and Drought Portal

Sustainable Development Goal 6

SDG 6 Data Portal

SDG 6.3.2 story map SDG 6.5.1 IWRM Data Portal 6.6.1 Freshwater Ecosystem Explorer


GEMStat Water Quality Dashboard

Capacity Development

Key resources to understand water quality monitoring and learn how to undertake monitoring

Water SDG 6

GEMS/Water Capacity Development

Moodle courses

WWQA Capacity Development Consortium

SDG 6.3.2 resources

SDG Help Desk


More Resources – Selected Assessments and Reports