UN: 26% of world’s population lacks safe drinking water; 46% lacks sanitation
UNITED NATIONS — A report issued on the eve of the first major U.N. conference on water in more than 45 years says 26% of the world’s pop- ulation doesn’t have access to safe drinking water and 46% lacks access to basic sanitation.
The U.N. World Water Development Report 2023, released Tuesday, painted a stark picture of the huge gap that needs to be filled to meet U.N. goals to ensure all people have access to clean water and sanitation by 2030.
Richard Connor, editor- in-chief of the report, told a news conference that the estimated cost of meeting the goals is between $600 billion and $1 trillion a year.
But equally important, Connor said, is forging partnerships with investors, financiers, governments and climate change communi- ties to ensure that money is invested in ways to sustain the environment and provide potable water to the 2 billion people who don’t have it and sanitation to the 3.6 million in need.
According to the report, water use has been increasing globally by roughly 1% per year over the last 40 years “and is expected to grow at a similar rate through to 2050, driven by a combination of population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns.”
Connor said that actual increase in demand is happening in developing countries and emerging economies where it is driven by industrial growth and especially the rapid increase in the population of cities. It is in these urban areas “that you’re having a real big increase in demand,” he said.
With agriculture using 70% of all water globally, Connor said, irrigation for crops has to be more efficient — as it is in some countries that now use drip irrigation, which saves water. “That allows water to be available to cities,” he said.