Problem area: water
The surface of the earth is about 71% covered by water. Of this, however, only 0.3% is directly available to humans as drinking water. This makes water and its availability and quality not only a particularly valuable resource, but also a much-discussed developmental and environmental policy problem.
Since 2000, the world's population has grown by more than 1 billion people to currently 7.3 billion people. In the same period, global water demand has risen by about 20%. The situation is exacerbated by a further 55% increase in global water demand, projected by 2050, and the concomitantly increasing conflict of uses. The use of global water resources already characterizes the appearance of the earth today. Water scarcity has consequences for the individual, ecosystems and economic development. Inadequate basic water supply is also a factor that can weaken the stability of political systems. For the year 2050 it is expected that 40% of the world population lives in areas with water stress.
Water is indispensable prerequisite for sustainable development
Intact ecosystems represent retreats for man and nature and guarantee the long-term availability of water. The appreciation of ecosystem services as well as the methods used to determine the water requirements of ecosystems have been subject to considerable change in recent times. A methodically consistent, up-to-date and comprehensive description of the status of global water resources and associated ecosystems is therefore a central prerequisite for sound regional and global objectives. Without effective water supply and efficient sanitation, successful poverty control, social prosperity, healthy economic growth and efficient environmental protection are not possible.
Nevertheless, around 1.2 billion people worldwide are still threatened by extreme water scarcity and around 748 million people have no access to clean drinking water. However, the number of those who have to live without basic sanitation - i.e., they have neither a toilet, nor a connection to the wastewater disposal. The consequences for the affected people themselves, as well as for the economic and ecological development of their homelands, resemble a "silent tragedy". Particularly affected by this are cities in the so-called developing countries, since both the water consumption, the degree of pollution and the amount of waste water generated are particularly high in a comparatively narrow area. Frequently, there is a lack of adequate infrastructure for wastewater disposal and reprocessing, so that the inhabitants of these cities are usually only left with dirty water. This suggests that a reliable supply of drinking water can only be achieved in conjunction with efficient wastewater disposal.