Why does water matter?

Water covers more than two thirds of the surface of our planet. Nearly 98 per cent of Earth’s water is found in oceans and other saltwater bodies, while the majority of the remaining freshwater is frozen in ice sheets and glaciers.

Readily accessible freshwater – which is found in rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers – accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s water supply. But this precious resource supports an enormous diversity of life, and is essential for human survival.

As the global population grows, so too do the demands for water – for drinking, sanitation, farming and energy production, among many other uses. At the same time, human activity and climate change are disrupting natural water cycles, putting freshwater ecosystems under pressure. Pollution, infrastructure development and resource extraction pose additional challenges.

We cannot afford to be careless with this vital resource. That’s why UN Environment supports countries to promote the management, protection and restoration of the world’s freshwater ecosystems in integrated ways, while increasing resilience to natural disasters and conflict.

Our goals in this work are to support human well-being, promote inclusive growth, enhance environmental health, and boost resilience while reducing risk. These efforts help implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.