Some commonly used terms

Some common terms that will help you while reading content about climate and water issues.

Picture of a lone old person standing in a field of crops



An underground source of water

Climate change

A change of climate (the average weather) which is:

  • Linked directly or indirectly to human activity which emits greenhouse gases and changes the composition of the global atmosphere
  • Above and beyond natural climate change variability observed over similar periods of time

Climate change adaptation

Action or planning undertaken to respond to the impacts of climate change which we are currently experiencing as well as to prepare for future impacts 1


A community of living organisms that are living and interacting with nonliving components in their environment

Global warming

The increase in average temperature of the air near the surface of Earth over the past 100-200 years, mainly due to human activity. 2

Integrated river basin management

Cross-disciplinary coordination of water, land and related resources in a river basin, watershed or catchment to achieve long-term sustainability. 3

Integrated water resource management

Collective or interdisciplinary development and management of water, land, and related resources which would support economic development without compromising the environment 4

Nature-based solutions

Actions to protect, manage and restore ecosystems or natural infrastructure to address societal challenges such as the changing climate 5

River basin

The land between the start ("source") and the end ("mouth") of a river, including all the areas that drain into the river. 6


Across borders, both between countries or between regions in a country

Water and sanitation

Water in this context refers to the water supplied for our use, and how it is treated.

Sanitation in this context refers to the treatment and disposal of sewage and wastewater.

Water demand management

Water demand management aims to achieve efficient water use via water savings and conservation efforts.

Water governance

A set of water laws, policies and programmes adopted by a country or state to develop and manage its water resources to meet the current and future needs of its population 7

Water security

Human wellbeing: The reliable and sustainable access to an acceptable quantity and quality of water in a population for basic needs such as drinking, sanitation, and hygiene

Ecosystems: Ecosystems are preserved to ensure that they are able to provide resources such as freshwater 8

Economic development: The availability of adequate water supplies for food production, energy production, industry, transport, and tourism

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