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UN report: Without radical action, two-thirds of people to remain water-insecure post-2030

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Two-thirds of the world's population will continue to live in water insecurity well beyond 2030 if radical measures are not taken, UN water experts warned in a report published on Thursday.

"Unless radical action is taken, this assessment indicates that two-thirds of the world's population will continue to live water-insecure well beyond 2030," warns The Global Water Security 2023 Assessment, led by experts at the United Nations University Institute of Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

The UNU-INWEH, also known as the UN Think Tank on Water and established in 1996, is a member of the UNU family of organizations.

The report, released on the second day of the UN 2023 Water Conference, "provides a multidimensional comparison of the state of water security affecting 7.8 billion people across 186 countries midway into the Water Action Decade (2018-2028) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

A press release accompanying the launch of the report states that the world is far from achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 that aims to ensure all people have access to clean water and sanitation.

"Without water security, countries are simply incapable of supporting freshwater ecosystems, livelihoods and human well-being," said Charlotte MacAlister, the report's lead author and senior water security researcher at UNU-INWEH. "This global assessment highlights significant development challenges that policy discussions should center on in the seven years left to fulfill SDG 6."

Based on the assessment published by the UNU-INWEH, policymakers are mainly focused on water scarcity mitigation around the globe. The authors argue that this reductionist interpretation of water security "has put the world off-track to meeting SDG 6 by 2030."

To provide a more realistic understanding of the water security status around the world, this UN report evaluated water security on 10 components or dimensions including drinking water, sanitation, good health and water quality, among others.

The results are worrying: 78 percent of the global population, or about 6.1 billion people, presently live in water-insecure countries.

According to the release, the global assessment's key findings include:

-- A total of 23 countries -- 16 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and seven Small Island Developing States (SIDS) -- are critically water-insecure;

-- In total, only 33 countries from three geographic regions are water secure;

-- More than 70 percent (close to 5.5 billion) do not have safe water access, with Africa having the lowest levels of access, at only 15 percent of the region's population;

-- Almost 31 percent (over 411 million) of people in the 54 African countries, including 33 LDCs and six SIDS, do not have access to a basic drinking water service. Only 201 million people (15 percent) have access to safely managed drinking water;

-- Countries at risk of floods and droughts have compounded challenges that threaten their economic safety. By region, Africa has the highest number of countries at high risk of floods and droughts, while also experiencing accelerated population growth, urbanization and industrialization.