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Progress on Wastewater Treatment – 2021 Update


Target 6.3 is: “By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”.

Indicator 6.3.1 tracks the proportion of total, industrial and household wastewater flows safely treated in compliance with national or local standards. The household component includes both sewage and faecal sludge, treated on-site or off-site, with linkages to indicator 6.2.1a on sanitation.

This report presents the global status on wastewater treatment and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.3 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.3.1 (total wastewater flows as well as flows from industrial sources and households).

In 2015, in the 42 countries (representative of 18 per cent of the global population) reporting both generation and treatment of total wastewater flows, 32 per cent received at least some treatment. The proportion of industrial wastewater flow treated was 30 per cent, and could only be calculated for 14 countries (representing 4 per cent of the global population). There are insufficient data to produce global and regional estimates.

Globally, 56 per cent of household wastewater flows were safely treated in 2020 (extrapolated from data from 128 countries representing 80 per cent of the global population). Wide disparities among the regional proportions of household wastewater safely treated were discovered (ranging from 25 per cent to 80 per cent by SDG region), indicating that progress remains uneven across the globe.

UN-Water Publications

UN-Water’s publications can be divided into two main groups: the publications that represent all Members and Partners of UN-Water – the collective products – and the publications that are under the UN-Water umbrella but produced by groups or individual UN-Water Members and/or Partners – the related products.