WEHAB Working Group, "A Framework for Action on Water and Sanitation", World Summit on Sustainable Development - Johannsesburg 2002 - United Nations, August 1, 2002, Num. 0,

“Water is essential for life. It is the key resource for people's good health, for irrigating crops, for providing hydropower, for protecting ecosystems. Despite the broad recognition of the central role of water in sustainable development, including in efforts to eradicate poverty, addressing the water needs of the poor through concerted global action has not been given enough priority. While progress has been made over the decade since the Rio Earth Summit, on average it has been slower than anticipated.”

“Water resources in many countries remain fragile, more due to poor demand-and-supply management than to actual water scarcity. Measures promoting sustainable use of water are far from satisfactory. About 1.2 billion people still have no access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion do not have adequate sanitation services. Some 2 million children die every year from water-related diseases. In the poorest countries, one in five children dies before the age of five mainly from water-related infectious diseases arising from insufficient water availability, in both quantity and quality. Thus provision of safe drinking water and sanitation services to more than 1 billion people over the next decade remains one of the most critical challenges humanity is facing today.”

“In addition to freshwater systems, estuarine, near-shore and oceanic systems provide renewable food supplies, tourism opportunities, transportation highways, biotechnology supermarkets and many more benefits that are frequently overlooked or abused in many parts of the world. Waterways direct pollutants and solid waste to the coastal zone, where they accumulate along the coastal fringe, the home of nearly half of the world's population and a concentration of the most productive, biologically diverse ecosystems. Municipal wastewater emissions are one of the most significant threats to sustainable coastal development world-wide. Their effects are usually localized, but they are a major source of coastal and marine contamination in all regions and therefore a global issue.”

“Pollution of water resources is on the increase in many places, and water distribution and use efficiencies are low both in irrigation and in urban water supply networks. Water tables are dropping, many rivers no longer reach the sea, freshwater aquatic species are in peril and deltas and wetlands are disappearing. Water is more and more a resource in dispute, and conflicts over its use and distribution are common. By 2025, urban populations in developing countries will have doubled over today's figures, to 4 billion. Unfortunately, sanitation and water programmes globally are not geared to keep pace with these shifting and growing populations and are saddled with a traditional top-down approach with almost no participation of those needing services. In addition, not only are systems poorly designed and underfinanced, but regulatory and management aspects remain extremely weak. There is little match between resources available and the choice and design of systems.”

“Access to water is already a major limiting factor in the socioeconomic development of many countries. There is growing concern regarding the increasing stress on water resources caused by population growth, unsustainable consumption patterns and uncontrolled uses. High distribution losses put further stress on available supplies. Data on water use worldwide provide a stark example of the wide gulf between the rich and the poor worlds: people in developing countries use about 20 litres of water a day, and even less in some places, while those in the industrial world use 400-500 litres.”