Every year, more than one million people die from diarrhoea. About half a million of these are children. Many of these deaths are caused by poor access to clean water and adequate sanitation.
Most of the world's rivers are polluted and are not suitable for direct human use.
This imposes large costs on animals and plants, but also on the millions of people that depend on streams and rivers for their water needs.
This is not just a water problem.
In many dry and semi-arid locations water extractions from aquifers and rives are growing at an unsustainable rate and this jeopardises future food production.
In most locations water planning, management and governance is ineffective and fails to respond to human needs and environmental demands for water. The very poor incur a high cost relative to their incomes to access water, yet many of those who can afford water do not pay a price that reflects its true scarcity value.
Everyone is entitled to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use, as well as affordable access to sanitation that is safe, hygienic, and secure.
Yet some 800 million people still do not have access to improved sources of drinking water and more than two billion lack access to improved sanitation. Importantly, 80% of countries also lack sufficient funds to meet their national targets for water and sanitation and hygiene.
The world needs co-ordinated, prioritised and funded actions to respond to basic water needs, to the deterioration of watersheds and aquifers and to failures in water governance.