United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

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 owing to rapid population growth, urbanization and increasing water needs from agriculture, industry, and energy sectors. Decades of misuse, poor management, overextraction 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 per cent to 74 per cent, the population with safely managed sanitation increased from 47 per cent to 54 per cent and the population with access to handwashing facilities with soap and water in the home increased from 67 per cent to 71 per cent. Rates of progress for these basic services would need to quadruple for universal coverage to be reached by 2030. 

Assessment of rivers, lakes and aquifers in 97 countries in 2020 shows that 60 per cent of water bodies assessed have good water quality. Of the 76,000 water bodies that were reported on in 2020, only 1 per cent were from the poorest countries. For at least 3 billion people, the quality of the water they rely upon is unknown owing to a lack of monitoring.

Water use efficiency worldwide rose from $17.4 per cubic metre in 2015 to $19.4 per cubic metre in 2019, which represents a 12 per cent efficiency increase. Around 57 per cent of countries presented a water use efficiency equivalent to $20 per cubic metre or less in 2019.

Across the world, water stress levels remained safe at 18.6 per cent in 2019, although this hides large regional variations. Southern Asia and Central Asia registered high levels of water stress at over 75 per cent, whereas Northern Africa registered a critical water stress level of over 100 per cent. 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 urgently to 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 suggest slow progress, with only 32 countries having 90 per cent or more of their transboundary waters covered by such arrangements. 

Over the past 300 years, wetland ecosystems have experienced an 85 per cent loss in extent despite the very high value goods and services that 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 five years. Population growth, changes to land cover and land use and climate change are key drivers of these changes to freshwater ecosystems.

Source: Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals- Report of the Secretary-General

For more information, please, check: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/