The number of people lacking access to safe drinking water in cities around the world will double by 2050, research has found, amid warnings of an imminent water crisis that is likely to “spiral out of control”.
Nearly 1 billion people in cities around the world face water scarcity today and the number is likely to reach between 1.7 billion and 2.4 billion within the next three decades, according to the UN World Water Development Report, published on Tuesday ahead of a vital UN summit.
Urban water demand is predicted to increase by 80% by 2050. Water shortages are also becoming a more frequent occurrence in rural areas, the report found. Currently, between 2 billion and 3 billion people experience water shortages for at least a month a year.
Audrey Azoulay, director general of Unesco, the UN agency that produced the report, said governments must cooperate over water. “There is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control. Water is our common future, and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably,”
About 2 billion people globally do not have safe drinking water, while 3.6 billion lack access to safely managed sanitation. Water use has been growing globally by about 1% a year for the last 40 years and this will continue. About a 10th of the global population lives in countries with high water stress.