UN-Water is the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater and sanitation related matters.
Building on a long history of coordination in the UN System, UN-Water was formalized in 2003 by the United Nations High Level Committee on Programmes. It provides the platform to address the cross-cutting nature of water and maximize system-wide coordinated action and coherence. UN-Water promotes coherence in, and coordination of, UN system actions aimed at the implementation of the agenda defined by the Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on Sustainable Development as it relates to its scope of work. Through UN-Water the United Nations act as "One UN".
The scope of UN-Water’s work encompasses all aspects of freshwater, including surface and groundwater resources and the interface between fresh and sea water. It includes:
- Freshwater resources - both in terms of their quality and quantity, their development, assessment, management, monitoring and use (including, for example, domestic uses, agriculture and ecosystems requirements);
- Sanitation - both access to and use of sanitation by populations and the interactions between sanitation and freshwater;
- Water-related disasters, emergencies and other extreme events and their impact on human security.
The main purpose of UN-Water is thus to complement and add value to existing programmes and projects by facilitating synergies and joint efforts, so as to maximize system-wide coordinated action and coherence as well as effectiveness of the support provided to Member States in their efforts towards achieving the time-bound goals, targets and actions related to its scope of work as agreed by the international community, particularly those contained in the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (World Summit on Sustainable Development).