Over one billion people currently rely on unsafe drinking water sources, particularly in developing countries where the majority of waste is discharged untreated, the UN has estimated. In a new report Sick Water, the UN Environment Program report that that two billion tons of wastewater – including fertilizer run-off and industrial waste – is being discharged daily around the world, fueling the spread of disease and damaging ecosystems.
In the report, released to coincide with World Water Day this past Monday, the authors state that more people die from polluted water every year than from all forms of violence, including war, and more than half of the world’s hospital beds are filled by people suffering from water-related illnesses.
“If we are not able to manage our waste, then that means more people dying from waterborne diseases,” said Achim Steiner, the U.N. Undersecretary General and executive director of UNEP. “If the world is to thrive, let alone to survive on a planet of 6 billion people heading to over 9 billion by 2050, we need to get collectively smarter and more intelligent about how we manage waste, including wastewaters.”
The report also highlighted the wastefulness of bottled water, explaining that three liters of water are used to produce one liter of bottled water, and that bottled water production in the U.S. alone uses 17 million barrels of oil a year.
World Water Day is held to raise the profile of the water issues at the international political level. In 2010 the focus was on water quality, to ensure these considerations are made alongside the usual discussions on water rights and access.
Source: The New York Times
Click here to view the short film The Story of Bottled Water, also released for World Water Day.
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