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 safely managed sanitation services, including 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 wastewater 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 implementation (0-100)
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
Billions of people worldwide still live without safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, which are critical for protecting human health and containing the spread of COVID-19. Over the last century, global water use has increased at more than twice the rate of population growth. In addition to water stress, countries are facing growing challenges linked to water pollution, degraded water-related ecosystems, water scarcity caused by climate change and cooperation over transboundary waters. The world is not on track to achieve SDG 6. A dramatic acceleration in current rates of progress and integrated and holistic approaches to water management is needed.
Between 2000 and 2020, the global population using safely managed drinking water services and safely managed sanitation services increased by 2 billion and 2.4 billion, respectively. Despite progress, 2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water services, 3.6 billion lacked safely managed sanitation services, and 2.3 billion lacked basic hygiene services in 2020. The 1 in 3 people worldwide who still lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Among the 42 countries reporting on both total wastewater generation and total wastewater treatment in 2015, 32% of total wastewater flows received at least some treatment. An estimated 56% of wastewater generated by households in 2020 was safely treated, based on data from 128 countries and territories.
Assessment of rivers, lakes and aquifers of 89 countries in 2020 shows that 60% of water bodies assessed have good water quality. Protection is easier than restoration, so efforts to protect these water bodies from pollution must be initiated now.
Improving water use efficiency is a key measure that can contribute to reducing water stress in a country. Water use efficiency rose from $17.3/m3 in 2015 to $19.0/m3 in 2018 worldwide, a 10% efficiency increase. All economic sectors have seen an increase in their water use efficiency since 2015, with a 15% increase in industry sector, 8% in agriculture, and 8% in service sector.
In 2018, world water stress was estimated to be equivalent to 18.4%, increasing from 18.2% in 2015. Indeed, regions such as Western Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia present very high levels of water stress of more than 70%, whilst South-eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa saw an increase in their water stress levels from 2017 to 2018.
In 2020, 129 countries were not on track to hit the target of implementation of integrated water resources management by 2030, which includes financing and inter-sectoral coordination mechanisms, basin management, and monitoring. Globally, the rate of implementation needs to double. In many countries, COVID-19 has actually led to wider stakeholder engagement in water resources management through online consultations.
Advancing transboundary water cooperation plays a crucial role in preventing conflicts, supporting wider regional integration, peace and sustainable development. However, out of 153 countries sharing transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers, only 24 have 100% of their transboundary basin area covered by operational arrangements, and only an additional 22 countries have more than 70% covered (based on data from 2017 and 2020).
Freshwater ecosystems and the multitude of goods and services they provide are changing dramatically. One fifth of the world’s river basins are experiencing a significant change in surface water. This unprecedented situation is compounded by pollution in large lakes and the persistent loss and degradation of wetlands and freshwater biodiversity. Between 1970 and 2015, inland and marine/coastal wetlands both declined by approximately 35%, three times the rate of forest loss. Existing efforts to protect and restore water-related ecosystems must be urgently scaled up and accelerated
From 2015 to 2019, ODA disbursements to the water sector remained stable at around $8.8 billion, while ODA commitments to the water sector rose 9%. In the same time period, for LDCs, concessional lending increased by 52% to $2.0 billion, while ODA grants increased only 8%.
In 2018-2019, two-thirds of the 109 reporting countries and territories had participation procedures for local communities in water and sanitation management that were defined in laws or policies. However, only 14 countries and territories reported high levels of community and user participation for collaborative management and decision-making.
Source: Advance unedited copy of 2021 report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals