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21 March 2017

World Water Council calls on all governments to prioritize global water security

Marseille, 22 March 2017 – Worldwide, the total cost of water insecurity to the global economy is estimated at US $500 billion annually.  In observance of World Water Day, the World Water Council (WWC) calls on all governments to focus on water issues and prioritize water resources and management.  “There is an absolute necessity to increase water security, which is an essential ingredient for social and economic development in all sectors,” urges World Water Council President Benedito Braga.

While the right to water and sanitation was recognized by the UN in 2010, two-thirds of the 94 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization in 2014 recognized drinking-water and sanitation as a universal human right specifically in national legislation. More than 80% reported having national policies in place for drinking water and sanitation. However, much more remains to be done. An annual investment of hundreds of billions of US dollars is required worldwide from now until 2030 to ensure the infrastructure necessary to achieve universal water security is put into place. 

“World leaders realize that sanitation is fundamental to public health, but we need to act now. In order to in order to achieve the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goal no. 6 -  to deliver safe water and sanitation to everyone everywhere by 2030, we need commitment at the highest levels, so every town and city in the world can ensure that safe, clean water resources are available,” President Braga adds.

A high return on investment

“The world has fallen short on its sanitation target, leaving 2.4 billion people without access to improved sanitation facilities. It is therefore imperative that all nations continue to improve water and sanitation.” President Braga says, adding that for every dollar invested in water and sanitation, there is an estimated $4.3 dollar (400%) return in the form of reduced health care costs for individuals and society worldwide. 

He adds: “Water is an essential ingredient for social and economic development across nearly all sectors.  It secures enough food for all, provides sufficient and stable energy supplies, and ensures market and industrial stability amongst others benefits.  In the context of natural disasters and climate change, floods and droughts are at the root cause of many of our societies´ woes. Improved multi-purpose infrastructure is an essential step towards growth for many developing countries.”

A call on Local Governments with UCLG, ICLEI and GWOPA

Furthermore, the World Water Council, in collaboration with partners UCLG, ICLEI and GWOPA, reaffirms that people's access to sanitation and water are key priorities for local and regional governments in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal no. 6. Universal access to water and sanitation cannot be achieved without good local governance, sustainable management of natural resources and effective urbanization. 

Thousands of experts on water security expected at Brazil Forum

Continuing in its mission to achieve greater water security for all, the World Water Council is currently organizing the 8th World Water Forum, the world’s largest water-related event. The upcoming event is expected to be attended by over tens of thousands of participants and will take place in just one year’s time, from 18 to 23 March 2018, in Brasilia, under the theme “Sharing Water.” 

This year’s focus of World Water Day is the impact of wastewater. Approximately 80% of the world’s wastewater flows untreated into the environment while the costs of wastewater management are greatly outweighed by the benefits to human health, economic development and environmental sustainability – providing new business opportunities and creating more ‘green’ jobs.