Addressing water-related conflict and disasters

The majority of the impacts of climate change, including natural disasters, are felt in the hydrological cycle - and their frequency and magnitude are expected to increase in coming years.

The vast majority of natural disasters (over 90 per cent) are water related, including drought, flood and tropical storms, with significant impact on societies and the economy. 

When managed properly, freshwater ecosystems such as wetlands can help to increase resilience and mitigate natural disasters and conflict through support to livelihoods and human well-being. While rarely the direct cause of conflict, water-related ecosystems play a strong role in peace and security, often contributing to stressors or bearing the brunt of conflict. Maintaining their functions and services for all users and ensuring integrated water resources management (IWRM) approaches, therefore, forms the backbone of UN Environment’s work in this area.


What we do

UN Environment contributes to a wide range of environmental issues related to disasters and conflicts, focusing on the impacts of natural disasters on water quality, urban areas, and damages to natural and man-made infrastructure including freshwater habitats and ecosystem services.

The Flood and Drought Management Tools project, implemented by the UNEP-DHI Partnership provides a methodology with online tools, accessible through the Flood and Drought Portal. These approaches are used to support planning from the transboundary basin to water utility level.

In North Darfur, Sudan, the Wadi El Ku Catchment Management Project has been improving livelihoods of conflict-affected populations in a region with a long history of severe food shortages and cyclical episodes of drought since 2013.