Presenting target 6.4 on water use and scarcity

By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
— 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

What and why?

Target 6.4 addresses water scarcity, aiming to ensure there is sufficient water for the population, the economy and the environment by increasing water-use efficiency across all sectors of society. Securing environmental water requirements is essential to maintaining ecosystem health and resilience.

A high level of water stress can result in negative effects on economic development, increasing competition and potential conflict among users, which calls for effective supply and demand management policies and an increase in water-use efficiency.

Increasing water-use efficiency over time means decoupling a country’s economic growth from its water use, for example, by reducing water losses in municipal distribution networks and water use in production processes. In this regard, some sectors, for example, agriculture, industry, energy and municipal water supply are particularly relevant due to their high water use.

Freshwater resources are abundant worldwide, with only 9 per cent withdrawn by society. However, available resources are unevenly distributed across regions and within countries. In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress, of which 10 withdrew more than 100 per cent of their renewable energy resources. Water scarcity – both physical and economic – is currently affecting more than 40 per cent of the global population. Source: Millennium Development Goals Report (2015). Photo credit: Pingz Man, Creative Commons Attribution

Freshwater resources are abundant worldwide, with only 9 per cent withdrawn by society. However, available resources are unevenly distributed across regions and within countries. In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress, of which 10 withdrew more than 100 per cent of their renewable energy resources. Water scarcity – both physical and economic – is currently affecting more than 40 per cent of the global population. Source: Millennium Development Goals Report (2015). Photo credit: Pingz Man, Creative Commons Attribution

How can monitoring help?

The monitoring of freshwater availability, environmental water requirements and water use enables a more detailed analysis of water scarcity and its impact on both the economy and the population, and encourages ecosystem health consideration. Disaggregated data allow policy- and decision makers to target interventions at regions with high water stress and sectors with high water use.

Progress towards target 6.4 at the global level will be monitored through two indicators: