Photo: © UNICEF/Omid Fazel – Clean water, basic toilets, and good hygiene practices are essential to the health of children in Afghanistan.
Water starts wars, puts out fires, and is key to human survival, but ensuring access for all hinges largely on improving cooperation, according to a new flagship UN report published on Tuesday.
Launched ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference, the new edition of the UN World Water Development Report focuses on twin themes of partnerships and cooperation. Published by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the report highlights collaborative ways actors can work together to overcome common challenges.
“There is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Water is our common future, and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably.”
Globally, two billion people do not have safe drinking water and 3.6 billion lack access to safely managed sanitation, the report found.
The global urban population facing water scarcity is projected to potentially double from 930 million in 2016 to between 1.7 and 2.4 billion people, in 2050.
The rising incidence of extreme and prolonged droughts is also stressing ecosystems, with dire consequences for both plant and animal species, the report said.
‘Global crisis’ looms
Richard Connor, the report’s editor-in-chief, told reporters at a press conference at UN Headquarters ahead of the launch that “uncertainties are increasing”.
“If we don’t address it, there definitely will be a global crisis,” he said, pointing to rising scarcity that reflects reduced availability and increased demand, from urban and industrial growth to agriculture, which alone consumes 70 percent of the world’s supply.
Building partnerships and cooperation are key to realizing human rights to water and overcoming existing challenges, he said.
Explaining the landscape of such shortages […]