Integrated Water Resources Management in Cities in the World: Global Challenges

Chloé Grison, Steven Hendrik Andreas Koop, Steven J. Eisenreich, Jan Hofman, I-Shing Chang, Jing Wu, Dragan Savic, Kees van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Water scarcity and accessibility remain persistently amongst the most prominent global challenges. Although there is a wide agreement among international organizations that Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and water governance are key to overcome water-related challenges, global assessments of the progress made by cities is lacking. This paper for the first time analyses the challenges of water, wastewater, municipal solid waste and climate change in cities. We used empirical studies (125 cities) based on the City Blueprint Approach and developed a statistical estimation model to estimate IWRM performances of another 75 cities. These 200 cities in total represent more than 95% of the global urban population. This comprehensive global picture enables us to evaluate the existing gaps in achieving water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities). The best performing cities were Amsterdam and Singapore. Unfortunately, most cities do not yet manage their water resources wisely and are far from achieving the SDGs. For instance, targets regarding drinking water supply are still a challenge for many cities in Africa and Asia and challenges regarding sanitation are high in cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The same holds for solid waste management, climate adaptation, and people living in informal settlements. In another paper we will address the solution pathways to these global challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2787-2803
Number of pages17
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number6-7
Early online date22 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023

Data Availability Statement

The authors declare that all the data supporting the findings of this study are included in its Supplementary Information.


  • Blue City Index
  • Estimation model
  • Integrated water management
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Water governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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