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ADB’s Vision of Water for All

Water, like many of the world’s precious resources, is threatened by misuse, overuse, and pollution. In Asia and the Pacific, many countries are in a water crisis, and their expanding populations have increasing demands for water. "Water for All" is ADB's vision for the Asia and Pacific region. ADB works to increase investments for better water services in cities and rural communities and careful management of water resources.

Water for All policy and vision

ADB’s “Water for All” policy and vision, adopted in 2001, guides ADB’s work on water and development. It seeks to promote water as a socially vital economic good that needs careful management to sustain inclusive and equitable economic growth and reduce poverty. It also advocates a participatory approach in meeting the challenges of water conservation and protection.

The policy has the following principal elements:

  • Promotion of a national focus on water sector reform
  • Fostering the integrated management of water resources
  • Improving and expanding the delivery of water services
  • Fostering the conservation of water and increasing system efficiencies
  • Promoting regional cooperation and increasing the mutually beneficial use of shared water resources within and between countries
  • Facilitating the exchange of water sector information and experience
  • Improving governance and capacity building

These elements guide all ADB lending, policy dialogue, and technical assistance in the water sector.

An interim review in 2003 assessed the policy’s integration into ADB operations. The ensuing report highlighted encouraging progress in the policy’s implementation. The interim review also led to revision of the provision for large water resources projects that involve dams to reflect how ADB can promote stakeholder participation in its projects.

In 2005, a comprehensive review assessed progress in the policy’s implementation and provided recommendations to improve ADB’s water investment and operations. The review involved the commissioning of an independent expert panel and was conducted with broad stakeholder participation, transparent proceedings and reporting, and wide dissemination of results.

Today, the Water for All Policy remains the bedrock of ADB’s work on water and development.

Read the policy.

Asia’s growing water crisis

Growing populations, rapid urbanization, increasing water pollution, and competing demands for water have left water resources in many Asian countries in a critical state. The gap between demand and supply is widening, increasing competition between water users—farmers, energy producers, households, and businesses.

Around 70% of Asia’s water is used to irrigate crops, but much of it is used inefficiently, while many water-stressed countries lose large volumes of treated water through leakage in urban water supply systems. Asia is running out of water for the future.

As the race to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws to a close, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation reports that 260 million people in Asia are still without access to improved drinking water and 1.5 billion people are still without sanitation access.

With the world committing to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call for universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, investments in Asia’s water sector are more crucial than ever.

ADB’s work on water and development

ADB has been working to maintain the momentum and continuity of water developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Beginning with modest investments in water projects averaging $790 million a year from 1990 to 2005, ADB, through its Water Financing Program (WFP) launched in 2006, has increased investments to over $2.0 billion annually from 2006 to 2010.

Supporting the WFP implementation, ADB’s Water Financing Partnership Facility (WFPF), also launched in 2006, has been mobilizing financial and knowledge resources from financing partners. The WFPF’s total committed contributions as of 31 December 2014 stands at $102.3 million.

ADB's new Water Operational Plan 2011–2020 identifies priorities that ADB should immediately embark on, including the mobilization of additional resources to replenish the WFPF and ensuring that it will be able to support the continuation of the WFP. Under the plan, the WFP has now been continued, with target investments to be sustained at $2.0 billion-$2.5 billion annually or a total of over $20-25 billion by 2020.

The plan is ADB’s blueprint for a water secure and sustainable future for Asia and the Pacific.