Autodesk Water
Connecting Waterpeople
Autodesk Water Webinar Series - April 30th, 10h (UTC+1)

You are here

UN expert: Water crisis is worsening, urgent response needed

  • expert: Water crisis is worsening, urgent response needed

About the entity

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights.

A UN human rights expert called for a robust and rapid global response to the world’s worsening water crisis, saying that climate change had become a “risk multiplier” - exacerbating pollution, scarcity and disasters.

“The world faces a water crisis and it is getting worse,” David Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said in a report presented to the Human Rights Council.  “Human use of water, water pollution and the degradation of aquatic ecosystems continue to accelerate because of population growth, economic growth, the climate emergency, land-use change, extractivism, inefficient use of water, and weak planning, regulation and enforcement.

Three-quarters of all the natural disasters in the last 20 years were water-related, including floods, landslides and other extreme weather events.

“Given the devastating impacts of the global water crisis on people’s lives, health and human rights, remedial actions must be taken rapidly and systematically, with priority placed on improving conditions for the most vulnerable,” he said in the report Human Rights and the Global Water Crisis.

Boyd said half the world’s population live without safely managed sanitation and urgent action was also needed to help the more than three billion people who either lack access to safe drinking water, or face periodic water shortages.

“Water pollution, water scarcity, water-related disasters and damage to healthy freshwater ecosystems have major impacts on a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, water, sanitation, food, a healthy environment, an adequate standard of living, development, culture, and the rights of the child,” he said.

Boyd said there are five key steps States should take, at the national level, to address the global water crisis: prepare a state-of-the-water assessment; conduct a legal mapping initiative; develop water-related plans that incorporate a rights-based approach; implement and enforce water-related laws, regulations and standards; and evaluate progress and, if necessary, strengthen actions to ensure that human rights are fulfilled.

There are five key steps States should take, at the national level, to address the global water crisis

Two additional actions must be taken at every step of the process: building human, financial and institutional capacity; and informing and engaging the public, particularly women and vulnerable and marginalised groups.

“Safe, sufficient water and healthy aquatic ecosystems are substantive elements of the right to a healthy environment, as recognised by regional tribunals, national laws and national jurisprudence,” Boyd said. 

A human rights perspective can serve as a catalyst for accelerated action to achieve safe and sufficient water, empower those working to protect and conserve water, and guide our actions towards a healthy and sustainable future.”

The Special Rapporteur said the Human Rights Council has the power to spark progress through a resolution recognising that every person, everywhere, has the right to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Topics of interest

The data provided will be treated by iAgua Conocimiento, SL for the purpose of sending emails with updated information and occasionally on products and / or services of interest. For this we need you to check the following box to grant your consent. Remember that at any time you can exercise your rights of access, rectification and elimination of this data. You can consult all the additional and detailed information about Data Protection.