UN: two billion people worldwide still do not have access to safely managed drinking water | AFP or licensors

By Vatican News

July 14 2020

The United Nations launches a new initiative to accelerate efforts to enable people everywhere have access to clean water and sanitation by 2030, in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Called the Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6, the mechanism has been developed by more than 30 UN entities and 40 international organizations.  It lays down strategies to provide more efficient and coordinated support to countries to ensure global availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. 

Sustainable Development Goal 6 is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. It calls for ensuring clean water and sanitation for all people.

Water – critical to achieving most SDGs

Speaking at the virtual launch of the initiative on Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the importance of water in helping achieve almost all of the other 16 SDGs.   

He said it is essential for global health, food security, resilience to climate change, and is critical to UN efforts in peace, security, human rights and development.

With 280 watercourses worldwide shared by two or more countries, and about 60 percent of all aquifers transboundary, the risks of water disputes provoking conflict over shared basins are high.

The right to safe drinking water as a human right has been recognized as part of international law.

Guterres noted that water, today, faces two challenges globally. While there is an increasing demand and withdrawal of this precious resource, water sources and associated ecosystems face degradation due to climate change, pollution and other threats.

“Progress on SDG 6” he warned, “will face deepening challenges as our climate continues to change.”

Water, sanitation goal “badly off track”

“Today,” he lamented, “Sustainable Development Goal 6 is badly off track.”

“This is hindering progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the realization of human rights and the achievement of peace and security around the world.”

The UN estimates more than two billion people worldwide still do not have access to safely managed drinking water, while 4.2 billion lack safely managed sanitation. If current trends continue, by 2040 one in four of the world’s children under 18 – some 600 million in all – will be living in areas of extremely high water stress.

Water critical to fighting pandemics

Guterres pointed out that water and sanitation are key to fighting the current Covid-19 pandemic.  “Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.” 

“Yet,” he said, “3 billion people around the world – 40 per cent of the global population – lack basic handwashing facilities at home.”  

He called for resilient and sustainable water-related ecosystems and safe water supply and sanitation services to prevent and contain this and future pandemics.

As the world faces a dangerous recession, Guterres said, “coordination and alignment are more necessary than ever to target the use of our resources in the most efficient and impactful way.” – Vatican News