By 2025, the UN predicts that if the current situation does not evolve favorably, one third of the world’s population will be affected by water stress. The water crisis, which is increasingly reported in the media, is becoming a real geopolitical issue.

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The planet’s freshwater resources, if managed sustainably and effectively, can meet water demands of the world’s growing population with good quality water. However, water scarcity and water quality degradation present major challenges in securing enough water of good quality to meet human, environmental, social and economic needs to support sustainable development of countries. The widespread water quality degradation across the world is the most serious water problem, threatening human health and ecosystems’ integrity, but also representing a major concern for the water resources sustainability. New water quality challenges such as emerging pollutants and safe wastewater reuse bring even greater concerns, calling for urgent attention.

This theme focuses on the protection of the world’s freshwater resources to reduce impacts on human well-being and the natural environment. Activities under the theme aim to protect the water resources from pollution, enhance and restore water quality, conserve water and use water efficiently. Related Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) initiatives and projects include UNESCO-IHP International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ), Global Network on Water and Development Information for Arid Lands (G-WADI), International Drought Initiative (IDI) and the major UNESCO Project on Emerging Pollutants in Water and Wastewater.

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