Our daily water


Kirstin Brünjes,


Seen from space, our Earth appears to be a blue planet. This is no surprise since about two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered in water. Of this, 97% is saltwater and 3% freshwater. Theoretically, there is enough fresh water on earth to supply all humans. However, the distribution of water resources on Earth is highly uneven, and the precipitation that replenishes freshwater resources depends on the weather. Climate change is just one factor throwing the global water cycle out of balance. This results in an increase in global droughts.

Related SDGs


Did you know we are in a global water crisis? Here are a few facts to get you thinking:

  • Over 40% oft he world's population is affected by water scarcity

  • Water scarcity could drive out 700 million people from their homes by 2030

  • Nearly 1,000 children die every day from preventable water- and sanitation-related diseases

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to address this problem, making its targets among the most important for humanity. The fact of the matter is that we have a global water crisis and can do something about it.

How humans are bringing the water cycle out of balance

"For every drop of water you waste, you need to know that somewhere on earth, someone is desperately searching for a drop of water"

[Mehmet Murat Ildan]


The water cycle, driven by the sun, ensures that enormous amounts of water are moved around the earth: From evaporation to precipitation to seepage into the ground. Nothing is won, and nothing is lost. Strictly speaking, water is an infinite resource, and we cannot run out of it - rather the danger lies in how the water is distributed around the earth. In addition to the natural distribution of water, several anthropogenic (human) factors exacerbate water scarcity.

Climate change

Since 1970 the global average temperature has been rising at a rate of 1.7°C per century. Economic activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and livestock farming have significantly increased carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere since the beginning of the 20th century. Global warming is causing severe environmental changes, such as warming of the oceans, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, and rising sea levels. In addition, extreme weather events are also occurring more frequently, affecting the amount of global precipitation.

Growing world population

The world's population has tripled since 1950. While around 2.5 billion people populated the earth in 1950, the number has risen to almost 8 billion by 2020. As a result, demand for water is increasing in many places around the world - relative to what is available.

Increasing consumption

The more people live in the world, the more pressure there is on water resources. In addition to our direct water consumption (showering, going to the toilet, brushing our teeth), industry requires vast amounts of water for many production processes (indirect water consumption), such as growing food or producing phones or clothing.

Lack of water infrastructure

Access to clean water and sanitation was recognized as a human right by the United Nations (UN) in July 2010. Nevertheless, 785 million people worldwide do not have access to basic drinking water and around 2.3 billion do not have access to sanitation. This is mostly due to poor governance in the countries concerned.

washing hands

Water scarcity has drastic consequences for society

Around 827 thousand people in low-income countries die each year due to inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. People in the poorer regions of the world are particularly affected. There is often a lack of simple hand-washing facilities with water and soap. Diarrhea is still one of the most common causes of death, but the spread of Covid-19 over the past two years has also proved how important clean water and hygiene are for health.

Water is a human right…

This was decided by the United Nations at its General Assembly in June 2010. According to this right, everyone should have access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities.

But the reality is different: Although two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water, the problem of drinking water supply will be one of the greatest challenges to humanity in the 21st century.

What needs to change?

To counteract water shortage, consumers, businesses and politics must work together globally. This means a sustainable lifestyle, an ecological way of doing business, and good diplomatic relations at the international level.

Everyone can start with their own habits and become aware of their water consumption. On our SDG blog on SDG 6, you will find valuable advice on controlling and reducing your water consumption.

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