World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water.
- 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services.
- By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today.
- Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of global water withdrawals, mostly for irrigation – a figure which rises in areas of high water stress and population density. Industry takes 20% of the total, dominated by energy and manufacturing. The remaining 10% goes to domestic use – the proportion used for drinking water is much less than 1%.
- Today, around 1.9 billion people live in potentially severely water-scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to around 3 billion people.
- An estimated 1.8 billion people use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from human faeces.
- Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.
Climate and environment:
- The number of people at risk from floods is projected All information in this factsheet comes from UNESCO (2018) United Nations World Water Development Report 2018: Nature-based solutions for water unless specified otherwise. 3 to rise from 1.2 billion today to around 1.6 billion in 2050 – nearly 20% of the world’s population.
- Today, around 1.8 billion people are affected by land degradation and desertification. At least 65% of forested land is in a degraded state.
- An estimated 64-71% of natural wetlands have been lost since 1900 as a result of human activity.
- Soil erosion from croplands carries away 25 to 40 billion tonnes of topsoil every year, significantly reducing crop yields and the soil’s ability to regulate water, carbon and nutrients. The runoff, containing large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous, is also a major contributor to water pollution.
Download fact sheet.