Water scarcity is recognised as a key challenge to sustainable development and as a potential cause of social unrest and of conflict within and between countries.
At the same time water is increasingly considered as an instrument for international cooperation to support food production, livelihoods, ecosystems, climate change adaption, and sustainable development. As water scarcity is set to continue and intensify in dry areas, the world at large is in danger of leaving the water scarcity challenge to future generations who will be confronted with the consequences of today’s practices. Thus, water-scarce areas must sustainably access and utilise every available option for water resources in order to minimise the pressure that continues to grow.
Conventional water provisioning approaches relying on snowfall, rainfall and river runoff are not enough to meet growing freshwater demand in water-scarce areas. Considering the water-related sustainable development challenges in arid regions, unconventional water resources are an emerging opportunity to narrow the water demand-supply gap. There are fragmented, but growing, examples of using unconventional water resources across the world to boost water supplies to address water scarcity.
During the Virtual Dresden Nexus Conference 2020, which took place from 3–5 June 2020 under the theme “Circular Economy in a Sustainable Society”, UN-Water launched an Analytical Brief on Unconventional Water Resources.