Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress – 10 of which are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on alternative sources. Increasing drought and desertification is already worsening these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries. 

Facts and figures

40%

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population, and that figure is projected to rise.

2.6 billion

2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, but 663 million people are still without.

1,000

Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diseases.

40 billion

Women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water. This significantly impacts their employment opportunities.

2.4 billion

2.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic sanitation services like toilets or latrines.

80%

80 percent of wastewater from human activities is discharged into waterways without any pollution removal.

  • By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

  • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

  • By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

  • By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
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Goals in action
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