Goal 6: Clean water
and sanitation

Photo: UNICEF India

Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a consequence of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress; ten of them are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on non-conventional sources. Increasing drought and desertification is already exacerbating these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people are likely to be affected by recurring water shortages.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries.  

Universal access to clean water and sanitation is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 6.

Our work

Man cycling
UNDP in Colombia
Water: A dream becomes reality for indigenous communities

For the Wayuu Indians who live in the Guajira Peninsula to the northeast of Colombia, dreams are a way of receiving messages from the great beyond. more 

UNDP in El Salvador
A new model of water management

A water project in El Salvador aims for water systems to be managed under a system of governance and coordination, ensuring the sustainability and integrity in resource management.more 

Youth in Pakistan
UNDP in Pakistan
How can we achieve universal access to water and sanitation?

748 million people in the world lack access to an improved source of drinking water and 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation facilities.more 

Water tank
UNDP in Uganda
Water tanks help households keep dry spells away

A small grants scheme provides financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods.more 

Learn more: Water and oceans

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