Water facts

  • Only 0.5% of the world's water resources are available to provide for the freshwater needs of our planet's ecosystem and population. Water is not distributed evenly around the globe. Less than 10 countries possess 60% of the world's available freshwater supply.
  • 1.8 billion people(1) still lack access to fresh water supply and 2.5 billion people need improved sanitation. Since 1940 the world's water use has quadrupled whilst the world's population has only doubled.
  • In 60% of the European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used much faster than it can be replenished. At the same time, aging water networks systems waste more than 40% of water supply through leaks and cracks.


Everyone understands that water is essential to life. But many are only just now beginning to realise how essential it is to everything in life health, food, energy, transportation, nature, leisure, and virtually all the products used on a daily basis.

Water is essential to health and social and economic development

  • Over 5,000 children die each day due to dirty water or poor hygiene
  • Half of the world's hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering water borne diseases
  • Water-related diseases kill one child every 15 seconds
  • 1 Dollar invested in water/sanitation returns in 8 Dollars of economic growth


Water is essential to feed the world

  • 70% of the world's water resources are needed for food production!
  • Producing food for the increasing world population will require 50% more freshwater
  • Increasing competition for water and inefficient irrigation practices could constrain future food production
  • In many developing nations, irrigation accounts for over 90% of the water withdrawn. Therefore, more water-efficient irrigation technologies need to be applied.
  • The cup of coffee you may drink while reading this page required 140 litres of water. 15.500 litres of water is needed to produce one kg of beef


Water is essential for agriculture and industry

  • Water is used to make every product on Earth. Therefore, all businesses and all business sectors depend on it in some way.
  • After agriculture, industry is the second largest user of water. However, the amount of water used varies widely from one type of industry to another
  • Water, energy and food are intrinsically linked: water is needed to produce energy, energy is needed to deliver the water needed for food production.


To learn more about the water challenge read the WBCSD's water trends and facts or download the UN water fact sheets "Climate Change" and "Water Quality".

(1) Kyle Onda, Joe LoBuglio and Jamie Bartram, Global Access to Safe Water: Accounting for Water Quality and the Resulting Impact on MDG Progress, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012