“Despite the vital importance of water to all aspects of human life, the sector has been plagued by a chronic lack of political support, poor governance and underinvestment,” according to a foreward by Koichiro Matsuura, head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). “As a result, hundreds of millions of people around the world remain trapped in poverty and ill health and exposed to the risk of water-related disasters, environmental degradation and even political instability and conflict.”
By 2050, the world’s population is forecast to reach 9.1 billion – 2.5 billion higher than at present – with much of the growth in water-scarce regions of developing countries. That means an increase in freshwater demand of 64 billion cubic metres a year, the report said. Water use also is increasing due to migration from the countryside to cities, rising production of meat for consumption in China and elsewhere, and more crops grown for biofuels.
Jointly produced by more than two dozen UN bodies, the report was issued ahead of a major conference on water to be held in Istanbul next week.
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