Informed International Policy

SIWI informs and engages in collective efforts to raise awareness on water’s key role for sustainable development and climate resilience. SIWI believes that through cooperation and partnership building, we can set fair, inclusive, and forward-looking strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation, and for a wise use of the world’s water resources. By remaining a neutral advisory body, SIWI is able to keep its focus on water issues and not be influenced by political affiliations.

Water is the connecter of agriculture, industry, social development and environmental sustainability. As water grows scarcer, the need for social, economic and environmental policies that advocate for the protection and sustainable use of water will be of growing importance.

Water is a great connecter. It is the blue thread that runs through agriculture, industry, social development and environmental sustainability. Every product, industry and people has a tie to water. As a result the need for social, economic and environmental policies that advocate for the protection and sustainable use of water are incredibly important.

SIWI actively works to promote and advocate for the role of water in international policy development and implementation. As a trusted, neutral party, SIWI is often invited to present findings, facilitate high-level discussions and form coalitions that steer national and international policy towards achieving a water wise world.

Water is at the core of sustainable global development. SIWI strongly advocated for a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water, and is pleased that it has been included.  A broad and inclusive water goal reaffirms water’s fundamental role in building peaceful, prosperous, fair and sustainable societies.

The new Sustainable Development Goals aim to chart a path toward universal access to essential services and sustainable development; however, efforts made to achieve these goals may well be undermined by climate change.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) chart a path towards universal access to essential services and sustainable development; however, efforts made to achieve these goals may well be undermined by climate change. 

Water is also critical for successful climate change mitigation, as many efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depend on reliable access to water resources.

Between now and when the Paris agreement enters into force in 2020 will be an important time to take stock of the SDG process and emphasize water’s key role in addressing both Agenda 2030, and the ambitions set out in the climate agenda. For most Parties, water will be one of the key adaptation challenges of climate change.

As the national plans (NDCs) currently do not sufficiently meet the ambitions agreed upon in the Paris agreement, it will be important to build trust among parties and ensure that this gap is closed.

  • Water in the 2030 Agenda
    The dedicated water SDG (Goal 6) will help to create social, economic and financial benefits underpinning the three dimensions of sustainable development. However, water is critical for the achievement of nearly all 17 of the SDGs; it has implications on health, education, poverty reduction, hunger, energy and climate. 
  • Climate Risk is Water Risk
    Climate risk is water risk, and carries financial implications. Since the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992, floods, droughts and storms have caused USD 1.3 trillion of damage (63% of all climate damage). World Economic Forum stated in its 2015 Global Risk Report that the risk with the most damaging potential impact on countries and industries during the next ten years is a water risk. However, with climate wise actions, opportunity (and not only added cost) is within reach.
SIWI works to raise the political profile of water in order to drive action locally and globally. It's strategy includes:
  • Policy Development and Implementation
    SIWI helps clients and partners take the crucial step from policy formulation and planning to effective implementation. This includes targeted support in important aspects of reform, such as decentralisation, multi-stakeholder participation, river basin management, coordination and integration processes, and gender equity.
  • Knowledge Development and Capacity Building
    SIWI develops, disseminates and promotes the application of knowledge, tools and methodologies to improve water resources management and water related services. SIWI also provides tailored capacity building programmes and builds knowledge platforms for actors to share experiences, insights and perspectives on water governance. Institutional capacity is built by providing decision-makers with essential tools, such as water risk assessments that are produced in collaboration with national, Swedish and international stakeholders.
  • Institutions of Water
    Water is governed, allocated and used through institutional frameworks that can alter incentives and the behavior of users. SIWI analyses institutional frameworks (markets, property rights, regulation, policies and norms) to understand incentives, constraints, trade-offs and opportunities that relate to water distribution, use, services and investments. This includes identifying opportunities for innovations and new markets.
Regarding Informed International Policy ? Please contact us.

How we work

SIWI works with actors to integrate water and climate policies as a way to support community resilience and sustainable growth. We do this by:

  • Generating knowledge on the linkages between climate change and water across sectors, and the role of water in adaptation and mitigation
  • Raising awareness of the impact of climate change on water in all sectors and how to adapt
  • Creating platforms to exchange experiences, knowledge and perspectives on water and climate
  • Building capacity in organisations to account for climate change in project planning, strategies, policies and laws.

Climate adaptation policy and programme support
SIWI provides technical support to governments and other partners to integrate water resource management and climate adaptation and mitigation. SIWI also helps to improve the understanding among policy makers and practitioners of functional adaptation practices on the local, national and global levels.

Water and climate economics
Applying economic principles in climate change is useful for making a better valuation of adaptation and mitigation measures, and also to estimate the cost of inaction. Through this analysis, we support actors in the selection and employment of suitable tools for effective implementation.

Vulnerability and options analyses for climate change adaptation
Adapting to the realities of climate change requires short- to long-term investments in water resources systems. SIWI performs analyses to assess socio-economic vulnerability and show where and how adaptation investments can most effectively enhance the resilience of a system.

Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA)
As of 2014, SIWI hosts the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) secretariat and together with the World Bank chairs the steering committee. The intention of the Alliance is to bridge policy and field based activities, making it a great fit with SIWI’s own objectives.

SIWI coordinates the network’s policy group, which consists of like-minded organisations that are particularly engaged in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The policy group members contribute to the AGWA mission and purpose, which includes bridging local climate adaptation and water management practices to the global policy level. The policy group shares knowledge and strengthens cooperation.

For more information about AGWA visit:


SIWI is one of the founders of the #WaterIsClimate. This international initiative is an effort to elevate the visibility of water within the UNFCCC climate change discussions by reaching out to the climate community at every level for better consideration of water issues.

SIWI + #WaterIsClimate Key messages:

  • The impacts of climate change are most often felt through changes in water
  • Water is a connector, not a sector, and it offers solutions
  • Failure to address the relationship between water and climate puts our future in jeopardy
  • The water community offers holistic expertise that can support strategies to tackle climate change
Water is a fundamental resource determining the livelihoods, health and vulnerability of all human beings, notably those living in poverty. It is also crucial for economic growth; a precondition for poverty reduction. The relationship between water and poverty is more often determined by decision making on water allocation, management and policy, rather than by actual water scarcity. Poverty reduction efforts are therefore needed as much at the policy level as at the practice level.

What is Poverty Reduction?

Poverty reduction is the overarching goal of development, in accordance with the principles of human rights and social justice. SIWI subscribes to the widely accepted view that poverty is a multidimensional concept, identifying how humans are deprived of the fundamental capabilities that are needed to live a worthy life. These capabilities encompass material and non-material aspects, including power and security.

SIWI’s promotes principles of transparency, accountability and participation; all crucial to achieving more equitable and efficient use of water resources. The largest proportion of people in extreme poverty is found on the African continent. It is also where 70 per cent of the population live in transboundary river basins. SIWI’s work on transboundary water management is therefore highly relevant to poverty reduction.

A key dimension of poverty is vulnerability, notably to climate change. SIWI believes water plays an important role in both climate change mitigation and adaptation, and is actively involved in global efforts to address this challenge.


How does SIWI Work to Promote Poverty Reduction?
SIWI’s strength is in its position between policy and practice, working through both policy dialogue and participatory approaches. The institute works with a range of partners to create long-term partnerships enabling dialogue on equitable and sustainable water use. It strengthens the capacity of organisations and professionals to apply inequality reduction tools and principles, and generates and disseminates knowledge on the role of water for socio-economic development. SIWI also advocates for water in international policy processes, thereby also influencing public policies and corporate strategies.



To meet the climate agenda we must strengthen the collaboration of all actors across all sectors

Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, SIWI