Water, a Vital Source
Freshwater is a key resource for human health, prosperity and security. It is essential for poverty eradication, gender equality, food security, and the preservation of ecosystems.
Yet billions of people worldwide are confronted with serious freshwater challenges, from water scarcity, poor quality, lack of sanitation facilities, to waterrelated disasters such as fl oods and droughts. Some 80% of the world’s population lives incareas with high water security threats.
The UN General Assembly declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right in July 2010. But lack of access to drinking water of adequate quality and quantity remains one of the largest human health problems globally. Although the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target on water supply was met in 2010, more than 600 million people still lack access to safe drinking water, with over 40% living in sub-Saharan Africa. Th e MDG target on sanitation is unlikely to be met; some 2.5 billion in developing countries have no access to improved sanitation facilities. Poor rural populations are most affected.
Water resources are under increasingly severe pressure from climate change and other global drivers. Climate change alters rainfall patterns, soil moisture, humidity, glacier-mass balance and river fl ow, and also causes changes to underground water sources. At the same time, floods or droughts are rising in frequency and intensity. Over the next 40 years, approximately 800,000 new residents will move to cities around the world every week. Population growth and rapid urbanization will create further pressures on water resources and will have a tremendous impact on the natural environment. Deteriorating water infrastructure in many parts of the world will further impact public health and the environment. Given these challenges, the need to manage freshwater properly is essential. Sustainable water development should be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda, with water-specifi c goals explicitly linked to other