The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019 (WWDR), launched March 19 with the theme "Leaving No One Behind", argues that fulfilling the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all can also significantly contribute to the achievement of the broad set of goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: from food and energy security, to economic development and environmental sustainability.
WWDR is the UN-Water flagship report on water, giving an overall picture of the state, use and management of the world’s freshwater resources, and aims to provide decision-makers with tools to formulate and implement sustainable water policies.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, which coordinated the report, writes in her Foreward: "Based on the latest data, this report’s findings clearly illustrate the need to make substantial progress towards delivering on the 2030 Agenda promise of reaching the most vulnerable. The stakes are high: nearly a third of the global population do not use safely managed drinking water services and only two fifths have access to safely managed sanitation services. The intensification of environmental degradation, climate change, population growth and rapid urbanisation — among other factors — also pose considerable challenges to water security. Furthermore, in an increasingly globalised world, the impact of water-related decisions cross borders and affect everyone".
Key takeaways are that approximately 2.1 billion people do not have access to clean and readily available drinking water and that up to 4.3 billion still do not have access to safe sanitation.
The UN finds that by the year 2050, 45 percent of global gross domestic product and 40 percent of global grain production will be threatened by environmental damage and lack of water resources.
UNESCO also notes that people who are poor or marginalized are also more likely to have limited access to proper water and sanitation. The report also points out that half of the world's population with inadequate access to safe drinking water lives in Africa and that only 24 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to safe drinking water.