The 2017 United Nations World Water Development Report

Globally, water demand is predicted to increase significantly over the coming decades. In addition to the water demand of the agricultural sector which is currently responsible for 70%of water abstractions worldwide, large increases in water demand are predicted, particularly for industry and energy production (WWAP, 2015).Changing consumption patterns, including shifting diets towards highly water-intensive food ssuch as meat (i.e. 15,000 litres of water are needed for 1 kg of beef) will worsen the situation.In Europe, the manufacturing of food products consumes on average about 5 m³ of water per person, per day (Förster, 2014). At the same time, with as much as 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted annually (WWF, 2015), 250 km³ of water is being ‘lost’ per year worldwide (FAO, 2013a).On average, high-income countries treat about 70% of the wastewater they generate, while that ratio drops to 38% in upper middle-income countries and to 28% in lower middle-income countries. In low-income countries, only 8% of industrial and municipal wastewater undergoes treatment of any kind (Sato et. al, 2013). This exasperates the situation for the poor, particularly in slums, who are often directly exposed to untreated wastewater due to a lack of water and sanitation services.The above estimates support the often-cited approximation that, globally, it is likely that over 80% of wastewater is released to the environment without adequate treatment (WWAP, 2012;UN-Water 2015a).

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2017 – Facts & Figures 

In 22 March 2017 the UN World Water Development Report “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource” was officially launched in Durban, South Africa, on the occasion of the World Water Day.

What if we were to consider the vast quantities of domestic, agricultural and industrial wastewater discharged into the environment everyday as a valuable resource rather than costly problem? This is the paradigm shift advocated in the United Nations World Water Development Report 2017 “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource”, officially launched on 22 March 2017 in Durban, South Africa, on the occasion of World Water Day. 

The World Water Development Report (WWDR), released every year with a focus on different strategic water issues each year, is the UN’s flagship report on water. It is a comprehensive review that gives an overall picture of the state of the world’s freshwater resources. The development of the WWDR, coordinated by the UN World Water Assessment Programme, hosted by UNESCO, is a joint effort of 31 entities of the UN System and 38 international partners that comprise UN-Water.

In order to better disseminate the WWDR 2017 key findings, about 30 regional launches of the WWDR are being organized around the world. UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office, in cooperation with the Public Fund “Center “Cooperation for sustainable development” (Almaty, Kazakhstan), Central Asian Regional Water Network CAR@WAN and national stakeholders, will organize three launch events of the WWDR in Central Asia region: in Bishkek on March 31, in Almaty on April 7, and in Dushanbe on April 14. The events will be held in the format of seminars and round tables on the occasion of the World Water Day, with participation of local authorities, relevant stakeholders, research and educational institutions, as well as representatives of international organizations and independent experts.

The full version of the Report, as well as its Executive Summary can be downloaded free of charge from UNESCO website

Message from Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the World Water Day 2017

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