Amid a lack of global cooperation, the world is far off-track in achieving universal access to clean drinking water by 2030, according to a United Nations report released on Wednesday, World Water Day.
With seven years to go until the end of the decade, 26% of the world population lacks access to safe drinking water and 46% don’t have access to basic sanitation, the report found.
The United Nations World Water Development Report 2023 was released by UNESCO as global leaders convened in New York for the first international conference on water in nearly half a century.
“According to the latest figures from 2020, 26% of the world’s population (2 billion people) did not have access to safely managed drinking water services, and an estimated 46% (3.6 billion) lacked access to safely managed sanitation,” the report concludes.
Approximately 60% of the world’s reported water bodies were categorized as having ‘good’ ambient water quality. However, the poorest 20 countries are grossly under-represented in this global estimate.
At the UN Water Conference, taking place from Wednesday through Friday, representatives from dozens of countries and international organizations focused on Indigenous rights, public health, and the climate are expected to speak about the solutions addressed in the report, including:
- The reallocation of water from agriculture to urban centers, which has “become a common strategy to meet freshwater needs in growing cities”;
- Watershed protection, which can provide biodiversity conservation as well as jobs and training opportunities;
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives such as water operators’ partnerships, which “connect established, well-functioning utilities with others that need assistance or guidance”;
- Initiatives that allow the “meaningful” participation of beneficiaries, especially in rural areas; and
- Coordination between climate and water agendas, with policymakers proactively reaching out to climate stakeholders and vice versa.