Project on Global Water Policy

Girl carrying water on her head

The Project on Global Water Policy explores the governance challenges and opportunities inherent in ensuring the sustainable use and stewardship of water in diverse world contexts

The need for sound analysis and constructive dialogue on how societies use, manage, and value water has never been greater.  Global water supplies are facing unprecedented – and often unsustainable - demands thanks to growing populations, a changing climate, shifting land use patterns, and a modernizing world. Water use increased at double the rate of population growth in the 20th century, and by 2025 an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in regions with absolute water scarcity. Currently, 884 million people in the world do not have access to a safe source of drinking water, and 2.6 billion people are without access to adequate sanitation facilities. Because these challenges are fundamentally political, the Project on Global Water Policy explores the governance challenges and opportunities inherent in ensuring the sustainable use and stewardship of this critical resource in diverse world contexts. 

The core mission of the Project on Global Water Policy is to raise awareness of the magnitude of global water challenges and to help generate the political will to address them. The project articulates to decision makers the direct influence that water policy has on global security, economic growth, and well-being by hosting conferences, publishing research, and strengthening knowledge sharing within the water sector. In particular, the Project on Global Water Policy analyzes the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance regarding water, the role of the private sector in financing, using, and extending access to water supplies, and the integration of water and sanitation into global health, gender, security, and environment agendas.

The ongoing work of the Project on Global Water Policy includes:

The Project builds on the CSIS Global Water Futures  project which from 2004 – 2009 explored ways in which the United States can strengthen its international water policy. Insights from the project helped shape the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act and the ensuing strategy developed by the State Department, USAID, and other U.S. government agencies. In 2009 the Project recommended that the  U.S. government  launch a comprehensive, integrated approach to the global challenge of water in its Declaration on U.S. Policy and the Global Challenge of Water, which was endorsed by university presidents, former cabinet -level officials, and CEOs of both NGOS and Fortune 500 companies.