It's International World Water Week! For the 27th time, the subject of water will be on the global agenda in Stockholm. This year's SIWI (Stockholm International Water Institute) event is all about the theme "Water, Ecosystems and Human Development". Last year alone, the event attracted around 380 organizations from over 130 countries - including experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a wide variety of industries. The aim of the annual event is to network, exchange ideas, promote new thinking and develop solutions to today's most pressing water-related challenges.
But how much water is there in the world, how is it distributed and why should we use this resource sparingly? On the occasion of World Water Week, we have curated the most important and exciting water facts for you:
More than 70% of our earth's surface is covered with water - it's not for nothing that the earth is called the "blue planet". But this apparent abundance is deceptive, because the majority of the water is almost 97% salt water and therefore undrinkable for us humans. Only 2.7% of the world's reserves are freshwater reserves - many trapped in polar ice caps and glaciers. Thus, the drinking water that is actually accessible and usable for us humans only accounts for around 0.3%.
According to WHO and UNICEF, 2.1 billion people still do not have access to safe and clean water at home. Just under 663 million - one in ten - were still drinking water from unsafe sources in 2017 and around 2.6 billion have no access to sanitation facilities. Added to this is the unequal distribution: In 41 countries, one fifth of the population has no access to safe drinking water – almost half of them live in Africa.
Climate change, population growth, increasing consumption: According to the UN, up to 40% of the global population could be affected by water shortages by 2050. Around 3.6 billion people already live in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year – by 2050 it could be up to five billion. According to the UN, global water demand is increasing by around one percent per year on average – worldwide water consumption has already increased sixfold since 1950 alone.
We Germans use around 120 liters of water a day per person – that’s around 43,800 liters a year. However, the actual water consumption due to indirect or virtual water is much higher. Because behind the production of a simple pair of jeans, a steak or a computer there are often up to thousands of liters of water. Individual water consumption is therefore primarily dependent on individual consumption: Up to 10,000 liters of water are used for 1 kg of conventional cotton and almost 15,000 liters for 1 kg of beef. On average, the indirect water consumption among us Germans is therefore much higher at almost 4,000 liters per day than the direct one.