For the last two decades, water security has been in the spotlight as a key concept for sustainable development. However, due to its wide interpretation range, the understanding of what water security is and what it encompasses can change considerably with different perspectives. By means of a review of both academic and grey literature, this paper presents an in-depth global overview of what water security means and how assessment is being carried out. These aspects are put together in the present work with the aim to facilitate access to this complex concept for academics but also policymakers and other stakeholders involved in water management and governance. Aiming to provide a groundwork for water security understanding, we examine definitions, scales of application, frequent approaches and methodologies used to study water security. We also present indicators and aspects being included in water security frameworks. A summary of important actions towards water security improvement is also presented. As a dynamic and multi-faceted concept, water security requires an equally multi-dimensional and flexible interpretation. Understanding and measuring are key to improving water security levels. Bringing attention to how climate change, environmental needs, demographics, economics and governance are linked to water security can boost impact by prompting science, policies and innovation to come together.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13702
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2021


  • Assessment
  • Climate change
  • Innovation
  • Policymaking
  • Sustainable development
  • Water governance
  • Water security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Addressing water security: an overview'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this