(MENAFN - Jordan Times) We all agree that water scarcity and dwindling supplies of safe drinking water around the world is alarming and poses a major problem in every continent.
Worse, this scarcity is expected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change.
Access to safe water and sanitation, and sound management of freshwater ecosystems are essential to human health and to environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.
It is imperative today to foster sustainable development. So what is the UN doing in this regard?
It has put out, in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.
The agenda was endorsed by all UN member states in September 2015; if achieved, it is bound to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental.
The 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the sixth goal (SDG 6) of which is 'Clean water and sanitation'.
SDG 6 seeks to achieve a number of targets by 2030, among which universal and equitable access to affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all; improving water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials; substantially increasing water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensuring sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
In 2015, 6.6 billion people (over 90 per cent of the world's population) used improved drinking water sources and 4.9 billion people used improved sanitation facilities.
Despite that improvement, an estimated 663 million people were using unimproved water sources or surface water that year.
A holistic management of the water cycle means taking into account the level of water stress, which occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use.
Already, water stress affects countries on every continent and hinders the sustainability of natural resources, as well as economic and social development.
The UN believes that integrated water resources management, with the participation of local communities, can address this urgent situation.
We must all join hands to preserve our natural resources and protect our water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers, because this is imperative to mitigate water scarcity.
Investing in adequate infrastructure, encouraging proper hygiene and supporting technologies in developing countries is also needed to ensure universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
The writer is public information officer, UN Information Centre in Beirut. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
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