(1) Ingo Gentes - International consultant for the water sector. (2) Michael Bender heads the Federal Contact Office of the GRÜNE LIGA, reg. Ass., in Berlin/Germany.

28.03.2016

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Establishing a water goal in its own right in the SDGs is an important step in the right direction. However, global efforts need to be stepped up if the human right to water and sanitation is to become a reality and a global water crisis is to be averted, our authors Ingo Gentes (r.) and Michael Bender maintain.

 The global community has failed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set by the United Nations for 2015 in the water supply and sanitation sector by 700 million people; in concrete terms, this means that one in three people – a total of 2.4 billion people world-wide – has no access to improved sanitation; every eighth individual – around 946 million people – practices open defecation; every tenth world inhabitant – about 663 million people – drinks water that is not potable water; 8 out of 10 people without access to safe drinking water live in rural areas.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF statistics, around 1.8 billion people take in water contaminated with faeces every day. Scenarios already compiled in 2012 for 2050 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecast an increase in the inflow of nitrogen into wastewater on a global scale of more than 150 per cent, while phosphorous inflow is set to rise by 180 per cent; the report does not even refer to statements on various contaminants such as hormones or heavy metals. In addition, the OECD projects a global increase in freshwater demand of 55 per cent by 2050, and by then, more than 2 billion people will have joined the 1.7 billion already living in areas under water stress today.

The establishment of a water goal in its own right and the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be regarded as a clear success by the international civil society water community. The sub-goals of the water SDG 6 comprise not only access to drinking water and sanitation but also the protection of water resources and ecosystems as well as efficient water use.

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