Water is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. Yet, 2.1 billion people do not have access to safely managed water and 4.5 billion people do not have access to safely managed sanitation.

(JMP, WHO/UNICEF, 2017)

ACCESS TO WATER

Water is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. Yet, there is widespread unsustainable use of surface water and groundwater in many parts of the world. Moreover, trends in water quality are decreasing in most watersheds, aquifers and coastal areas, and dependence on infrastructure for water provisioning is increasing.

But not everyone has access to water -according to the  WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP, 2017):

 

2.1 billion people do not have access to safely managed water and 4.5 billion people do not have access to safely managed sanitation;  

 

Studies show that about US$ 300-600 billion is annually generated by the negative externalities of the absence of reliable WASH services – the intervention costs to achieve SDG 6.1 and 6.2 are calculated at US$ 114 billion per year.

WATER SECURITY

It is also a known fact that water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America since the 1990’s. The uneven water availability, combined with inadequate distribution and waste treatment infrastructure, make water security a problem, reducing reliable access to a sufficient quality and quantity of fresh water, with impacts on human health.

Diarrheal from contaminated water and poor sanitation accounts for over 8,000 deaths per year for children under 5 years of age in the Americas, (IPBES, 2018).

 

Every year, 360,000 children under 5 still die from diarrheal half of are due to malnutrition and poor quality of water and sanitary facilities.

FRESH WATER ECOSYSTEMS

Our freshwater ecosystems are degrading at an alarming rate due to the land-use activities largely due to the  impact of trade and other economic activities. This is due to increased unsafe disposal of untreated wastewater, pollution from inadequate sanitation, unregulated solid and chemical waste disposal, and air pollution. 

Without responsible production and consumption, that respects both the sustainable development principles and human rights, these actions will continue to affect the well-being of populations,  while posing threats and undermining the gains made under the Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas;

 

64-71% of the natural wetland area worldwide has been lost due to human activity and climate changes in the last century.

WATER AND TRADE

While the significant role of global trade in reducing poverty, creating jobs, and promoting growth cannot be underestimated, economic activities and trade also lead to major human and environmental hazards: unsustainable agricultural trade, practices and climate change are, for instance, projected to be major drivers of further degradation of most terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems.

Yet, the demand for water is expected to increase by nearly one-third by 2050 with agricultural expansion taking well over 70% of the world's freshwater globally.The fastest depletion of aquifers is taking place in semi-arid and arid countries with a high dependency on irrigation for agriculture (Earth Security Group (ESG) report, 2017).

 

By 2050 4 billion people will be living in drylands with crop yields predicted to reduce by an average of 10% globally and up to 50% in certain regions;

At least  70 million people are at risk from arsenic poisoning of groundwater due in part to increased fertiliser application, coal-fired power generation, leaching from coal ash tailings, and mining activities in the Granges in India, (ESG report, 2017).

There is need to strengthen demonstrated multi-dimensional planning, partnerships and efforts, which are informed by data (research and science) and which are shaped by the needs and local contexts.  Planning, management and regulatory frameworks need strengthening to enhance compliance with the minimum standards that protect water, environment and the population.​