During its third session in December 2017 the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted resolution 3/10 “Addressing water pollution to protect and restore water-related ecosystems” (UNEP/EA.3/Res.10). It requests the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to develop a world water quality assessment for consideration UNEA at its fifth session. To kick off the development of the assessment, UNEP, with support from the World Meteorological Organization, organized an inception workshop in November 2018. During the workshop, UNEP convened around 50 organizations (UN, research, civil society, private sector), which had expressed interest to engage in the assessment and to also work with UNEP in co-designing agendas and action around emerging issues. This process with strong support from donors marks the emergence of a World Water Quality Alliance as an open community of practice was born and subsequently pursued. UNEP, and more specifically the Global Environment Monitoring Unit in Science Division, acts as the Secretariat of the Alliance.
The World Water Quality Alliance, representing a voluntary and flexible global Expert, Practitioners and Policy Network, advocates the central role of freshwater quality in achieving prosperity and sustainability. It explores and communicates water quality risks in global, regional, national and local contexts and points towards solutions for maintaining and restoring ecosystem and human health and well being. It aims to serve countries throughout the lifetime of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and beyond. The Alliance focuses on deliverables on three levels:
1. A global assessment of freshwater quality drawing on science – technology – innovation, including a data fusion approach combining in-situ monitoring, modelling and remote sensing. It will expand to additional sources and illustrate causal chain cases to highlight water quality risks and opportunities
2. Horizon scanning, agenda setting and investigating selected priority topics based on a collective prioritization process to identify persistent or emerging water quality issues of key environmental and socio-economic concern and,
3. Following a bottom up-approach, co-designing and operationalization of water quality related services and products, based on a moderated in-country stakeholder driven bottom-up process to identify local demands and needs.