Targets and Indicators
By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services
By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water
By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated
Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality
By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
Change in water-use efficiency over time
Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources
By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
Degree of integrated water resources management
Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation
By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time
By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan
Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management
Progress and Info
Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and well-being. Billions of people will lack access to these basic services in 2030 unless progress quadruples. Demand for water is rising due to rapid population growth, urbanization and increasing water needs from agriculture, industry, and energy sectors. Decades of misuse, poor management, over-extraction of groundwater and contamination of freshwater supplies have exacerbated water stress. In addition, countries are facing growing challenges linked to degraded water-related ecosystems, water scarcity caused by climate change, underinvestment in water and sanitation, and insufficient cooperation on transboundary waters.
Between 2015 and 2020, the population using safely managed drinking water services increased from 70% to 74%, the population with safely managed sanitation increased from 47% to 54%, and the population with access to handwashing facilities with soap and water in the home increased from 67% to 71%. Rates of progress for these basic services would need to quadruple to reach universal coverage by 2030. 14
Assessment of rivers, lakes and aquifers in 97 countries in 2020 shows that 60% of water bodies assessed have good water quality. Of the 76,000 water bodies that were reported on in 2020, only 1% were from the poorest countries. For at least 3 billion people, the quality of the water they rely upon is unknown due to a lack of monitoring.
Water use efficiency rose from $17.4/m3 in 2015 to $19.4/m3 in 2019 worldwide, which represents a 12% efficiency increase. Around 57% of countries presented a water use efficiency equivalent to $20/m3 or less in 2019. 72. Across the world, water stress levels remained safe at 18.6% in 2019, though this hides large regional variations. Southern Asia and Central Asia registered high levels of water stress at over 75%, whereas Northern Africa registered a critical water stress level of over 100%. Since 2015, water stress levels have increased significantly in Western Asia and Northern Africa.
To ensure a sustainable and equitable distribution of water to meet domestic, industrial, agricultural and environmental needs, the average global rate of implementation of improved management of water resources – from 49 in 2017 to 54 in 2020 – needs to urgently double. With political will and adequate financing, 22 countries made significant gains between 2017 and 2020, showing that real and rapid progress is possible and providing tangible examples for the 107 countries that need to significantly accelerate implementation.
Transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers are shared by 153 countries around the world. Ensuring that these waters are managed equitably, sustainably, and peacefully, particularly in the context of climate change, requires countries to put in place operational arrangements for water cooperation. Data from 2017 and 2020 suggests slow progress, with only 32 countries having 90% or more of their transboundary waters covered by such arrangements.
Over the past 300 years, wetland ecosystems have experienced an 85% loss in extent despite the very high value goods and services they provide. Additionally, the extent of surface water bodies, including lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, is rapidly changing across the entire planet, with one in five river basins experiencing high - above natural - fluctuations in surface water during the last 5 years. Population growth, changes to land cover and land use, and climate change are key drivers of these changes to freshwater ecosystems.