UN Report Forecasts Global Water Crisis and Calls for Urgent Investment and Critical Policy Change

The UN 2023 Water Conference kicked off March 22nd on World Water Day with the release of a new edition of the UN World Water Development Report.

Published by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the report focuses on the twin themes of partnerships and cooperation, and outlines the risks and challenges to global water access and supply within the coming decades. The conference is being held at a time of unparalleled clean water insecurity, with rising global temperatures causing greater event volatility.

The report presents an appeal for countries to work together to address urgent global challenges related to inefficient industrial expansion, overconsumption of water supplies, and the climate crisis generally. The risks, it says, are real and pressing: increased global hunger, forced migration, and territorial conflict due to deteriorating clean water access.

It then goes on to highlight specific ways cross-sector collaboration and innovation can work to solve the current, pressing global water crisis with an urgent appeal to act fast to mitigate its impact. According to ​​Jian Liu, the report’s Director of Early Warning and Assessment, “[…] the latest available data and estimates for 92 environment relevant SDG indicators tell us that the world is not on track to achieve the environmental dimension of the SDGs by 2030.”

Global access to clean drinking water and sanitation is just one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) established in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords. But at the current pace of global development, the report outlines the need for increased market investment, coupled with political will and policy coherence if access to water and sanitation (SDG6) will be achieved by the target goal of 2030.

According to the report’s findings, at current development rates, only 37% of people in sub-Saharan Africa will have safely managed water by 2030. “There is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from spiraling out of control,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Water is our common future, and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably.”

The Water Action Agenda, which represents voluntary commitments of nations and stakeholders to accomplish the global water-related goals and targets, is anticipated to be adopted at the UN 2023 Water Conference this week.

Join the Future of PFAS Call to Action

374Water co-hosted “Water Innovations for Sustainable Development” with the Delft University of Technology during the United Nations’ 2023 Water Conference in New York on Thursday, March 23rd. The panel will bring together an expert group of pioneers working on the frontlines of tackling the PFAS challenge, and help shape the “Future of PFAS Call to Action” –– a special report that will shift the conversation toward innovation, investment, and promising solutions. Join us live for the event.

Daniel Ramirez-Cisneros leads 374Water Global Access program.