Each year the World Water Week addresses a particular theme to enable a deeper examination of a specific water related topic. While not all events during the week relate to the overall theme, the workshops driven by the Scientific Programme Committee and many seminars and side events do focus on various aspects of the theme. The themes change each year, but each fits within a broader "niche" that covers several years. The grouping of themes within a niche is designed to develop a long-term perspective on a broad yet significant water and development issue. It also ensures that each year builds upon the previous years' outcomes and findings.
The current niche for 2009-2012 is "Responding to Global Changes", which looks at the potential and necessary responses in water policy, management and development to address pervasive and increasingly impacting global changes.