UN world water development report (2014 & 2015)
Contents (2014)
 External pressures that drive the demand for water
 Current global water demand and projected increases
 Water availability

External pressures that drive the demand for water
Alongside natural forces affecting the world’s water systems, human activities interact and
unite to create pressures on water resources, for which there are no substitutes.
Global population is projected to reach 9.3 billion in 2050 (UNDESA, 2012). Population growth
leads to increased water demand, reflecting growing needs for drinking water, health and
Consumer demand and increasing standards of living are driving increased demand for water.
Agriculture is the biggest water user, with irrigation accounting for 70% of global water
withdrawals with increasing demand for food, competition for water is rising.
Climate change impacts the hydrological cycle and consequently impacts water resources. For
example, higher temperatures and an increase in the rate of evaporation may affect water
supplies directly and potentially increase the water demand for agriculture and energy.
Government policies concerning water and water-related sectors can obviously aggravate or
improve pressures on water resources.

Current global water demand and projected increases
Globally, total freshwater withdrawals are believed to have increased by about 1% per year
between 1987 and 2000, based on data obtained from FAO AQUASTAT. It is reasonable to
assume this trend overall has continued since then at a similar rate to the present.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of total freshwater withdrawals globally, with the
industrial and domestic sectors accounting for the remaining 20% and 10%, respectively,
although these figures vary considerably across countries. Without improved efficiencies,
agricultural water consumption is expected to increase by about 20% globally by 2050 (WWAP,


especially in cities and countries undergoing accelerated economic growth and social development.1).e. Global water demand in terms of water withdrawals is projected to increase by some 55% due to growing demands from manufacturing (400%) thermal electricity generation (140%) and domestic use (130%) (OECD. 2012a) (Figure 2. 2 . freshwater availability will be increasingly strained through 2050. especially in North and South Africa and South and Central Asia. the Baseline Scenario). According to the OECD. with 2.Domestic and industrial water demands are also expected to increase. in the absence of new policies (i.3 billion more people than today (in total more than 40% of the global population) projected to be living in areas subjected to severe water stress.

. 2012). some massively so (Gleeson et al. 2012). adding to water stress in several areas (Figure 2. There is clear evidence that groundwater supplies are diminishing. dry regions are to a large extent expected to get drier and wet regions are expected to get wetter. and overall variability will increase. 3 . Globally. with an estimated 20% of the world’s aquifers being over-exploited. the rate of groundwater abstraction is increasing by 1% to 2% per year (WWAP.4) and compromising the availability of groundwater to serve as a bufer against local supply shortages.Water availability According to the most recent climate projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2008).

From food and energy security to human and environmental health.Contents (2015)  Importance of water  Unsustainable growth  Increasing global water demand Importance of water Water is at the core of sustainable development. Unsustainable growth The planet’s capacity to sustain the growing demands for freshwater is being challenged. and there can be no sustainable development unless the balance between demand and supply is restored. and much of this economic growth has come at a significant social and environmental cost. Population growth is another factor increasing the rate of water demand. food and energy security policies over the past century. 2012). 2010). By 2030. the urban population in Africa and Asia will double (un-Habitat. Global gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an average of 3. Developing countries account for 93% of urbanization globally. 2012). urbanization. and the range of services they provide. More than 50% of people on the planet now live in cities.5% per year from 1960 to 2012 (World economics. economic growth and environmental sustainability. 40% of which is the expansion of slums. fiber and energy. water contributes to improvements in social well-being and inclusive growth. Urban populations are projected to increase to a total of 6. 2014). reinforce poverty reduction. the world’s population is growing by about 80 million people per year (USCB. 2009). especially in drought-prone areas. It is predicted to reach 9.1 billion by 2050. By 2030. 4 . 2012).3 billion by 2050 (WWAP. Increasing urbanization is causing specific and often highly localized pressures on freshwater resource availability. Increasing global water demand Global water demand is largely influenced by population growth. affecting the livelihoods of billions. Demand for water is expected to increase in all sectors of production (WWaP. with 30% of all city dwellers residing in slums. the world is projected to face a 40% global water deficit under the business-as-usual (BAU) climate scenario (2030 WRG. the development of water resources has been largely driven by the demands of expanding populations for food. Water resources.

 Worldwide.Excessive water withdrawals for agriculture and energy can further exacerbate water scarcity. 95 countries have met the sanitation target and 77 countries have met both.  In 2015. Over half of the global population (58 per cent) now enjoys this higher level of service. and over 90% in most of the world’s least-developed countries (WWAP.  Of the 2. Practices like efficient irrigation techniques can have a dramatic impact on reducing water demand. accounting for roughly 70% of all freshwater withdrawals globally. the MDGs have saved the lives of millions and improved conditions for many more. compared to 76 per cent in 1990. Thanks to concerted global. 2. 5 . 147 countries have met the drinking water target. Freshwater withdrawals for energy production. regional.  Globally. the world community has reason to celebrate. 91 per cent of the global population is using an improved drinking water source.9 billion gained access to piped drinking water on premises. 2014). 1. are expected to increase by 20% through 2035 (IEA.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation. which currently account for 15% of the world’s total (WWAP. Assessment MDG achievements relating accessibility to safe drinking water and improved sanitation As we reach the end of the MDG period. 2012).6 billion people who have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990. national and local efforts. The agricultural sector is already the largest user of water resources. 2014). especially in rural areas. The proportion of people practicing open defecation has fallen almost by half since1990.

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