West News Wire: At the conclusion of a three-day conference on the world’s water resources, where developing countries made urgent appeals for assistance with cleaner drinking water and improved sanitation, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated on Friday that humanity’s existence rests on how people manage water.

In his concluding remarks, Guterres stated that “all of humanity’s hopes for the future depend, in some way, on charting a new course to sustainably manage and conserve water.”

Water “needs to be at the center of the global political agenda,” he said, citing sensible water use for agriculture and more aggressive climate change action.

The U.N. World Water Development Report, issued on the eve of the conference, says 26% of the world’s population 2 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water and 46% 3.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. U.N. research also shows that almost half the world’s people will suffer severe water stress by 2030.

The conference included many verbal pledges to improve water supplies, but fewer detailed commitments translating ambition into improved daily life for ordinary people.

“We have such beautiful, ambitious policies, but in a way they are unfeasible,” said Lina Taing, senior researcher at the global think tank United Nations University.

She said when it comes to getting people clean water and sanitation, “we know that we are completely off track.” Taing said the world needs to increase its actions “four times.”

Throughout the conference, water-stressed nations, particularly those in the developing world, told U.N. members of their need for international aid to provide their people with drinking water and sanitation systems.

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“Waging a war on two fronts simultaneously, to address water issues and climate change, is no mean feat, especially for a small island nation like Kiribati which has very limited resources at its disposal,” said Teburoro Tito, U.N. representative from the island nation of fewer than 200,000 people in the middle of the Pacific. He said Kiribati was particularly ill-equipped to respond to natural disasters.


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