According to a study by the United Nations (UN), the global shortage of drinking water will continue to increase. According to the World Water Report published by the cultural organization Unesco at the start of the UN Water Conference in New York, this is a consequence of increasing environmental problems and economic difficulties in connection with increased freshwater pollution.

“Depending on the season, water is becoming scarce as a result of climate change, both where it is abundant today – such as Central Africa, East Asia and parts of South America – and exacerbated where it is already scarce – such as the Middle East and in the Sahel.” On an annual average, 10 percent of the world’s population lived in countries at high or critical risk of water scarcity problems.

First meeting of this kind since 1977

Today is the start of the UN Water Conference in New York. It is the first major UN meeting since 1977 to deal exclusively with the topic of water. An interim balance at the halfway point of the so-called International Water Action Decade from 2018 to 2028 will be drawn by Friday. A particular focus is on the extent to which internationally agreed goals, including the UN Sustainable Development Goal on access for all people to clean water, can be achieved.

The UN study describes the progress in achieving the sustainability goal and its sub-goals as insufficient. “In order to achieve some goals, an implementation speed that is at least four times faster is now required,” it says. Two billion people worldwide – about one in four – have no access to clean water.

According to the report, global water consumption is projected to increase by around 1 percent annually through 2050, similar to the rate it has over the past 40 years. In poorer countries, the main risk is poor water quality, while in industrialized countries consumption by agriculture is problematic. Due to the climate crisis, certain regions are increasingly exposed to extreme and prolonged droughts, which have serious consequences for flora and fauna.