According to the UN, water is at the epicentre of sustainable development and is fundamental for socio-economic development, energy and food production, healthy ecosystems and for the very survival of human beings. Water is also a crucial part of adaptation to climate change, and is the crucial link between society and the environment.
Water is also a rights issue. As the world's population grows, there is an increasing need to reconcile the competing commercial demands of water resources so that communities have enough to meet their needs. For human development, water and sanitation systems cannot be separated. Both are vital to reducing the global burden of disease and to improving the health, education and economic productivity of populations.
Therefore, there are still many challenges around water that we need to address. In this infographic we compile the most important ones:
The challenges of water
- 2.1 billion people lack access to safe water services (WHO/UNICEF 2017).
- 4.5 billion people lack safe managed sanitation (WHO/UNICEF 2017).
- 340,000 children under five die each year from diarrhoeal diseases (WHO/UNICEF 2017).
- Water shortages already affect four out of ten people (WHO).
- 90% of natural disasters are water-related (UNISDR).
- 80% of wastewater returns to the ecosystem without being treated or reused (UNESCO, 2017).
- About two-thirds of the world's transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework (SIWI).
- Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water abstraction (FAO).
- Approximately 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production (UNESCO, 2014).