UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said water is the lifeblood of the world and climate change is wreaking havoc on water’s natural cycle.
He said from health and nutrition, to education and infrastructure, water is vital to every aspect of human survival and wellbeing, and the economic development and prosperity of every nation.
"We don’t have a moment to lose. Let’s make 2023 a year of transformation and investment for humanity’s lifeblood.
Let’s take action to protect, sustainably manage and ensure equitable access to water for all," said the UN chief in a message marking World Water Day today.
"But drop by drop, this precious lifeblood is being poisoned by pollution and drained by vampiric overuse, with water demand expected to exceed supply by 40 percent by decade’s end," Guterres said.
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He said greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise to all-time record levels, heating the world’s climate to dangerous levels.
"This is worsening water-related disasters, disease outbreaks, water shortages and droughts, while inflicting damage to infrastructure, food production, and supply chains," Guterres said.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day reminds all of the cost of these failures on the billions of people who lack access to safe water and sanitation.
Out of every 100 people on earth, 25 fetch all their water from open streams and ponds — or pay high prices to buy water of dubious safety. Twenty-two relieve themselves outdoors or use dirty, dangerous or broken latrines.
And 44 see their wastewater flow back into nature untreated, with disastrous health and environmental consequences.
"In short, our world is dramatically — and dangerously — off-track to reaching our goal of safely managed water and sanitation for all by 2030," Guterres said.
This year’s World Water Day reminds all of their individual and collective roles to protect and sustainably use and manage humanity’s lifeblood for present and future generations, he said.
The United Nations Water Conference, which kicks off today (March 22), is a critical moment for national governments, local and regional authorities, businesses, scientists, youth, civil society organizations and communities to join forces, and co-design and invest in solutions to achieve clean water and sanitation for all, said the UN Secretary-General.
Meanwhile, he said, governments, businesses and investors must take much bolder actions to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, with the G20 leading the way.
"We must break our addiction to fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy, while supporting developing countries every step of the way," said the UN chief.