Why Waste?

Only 20% of global wastewater is currently being treated, leaving low-income countries hardest hit by contaminated water supplies and disease, according to the UN-Water Analytical Brief on Wastewater Management. The brief encourages governments to see treated wastewater as a valuable resource, and a priority for the post-2015 development agenda.

With urban populations estimated to double in the next four decades, and low-income countries possessing only 8% of the required capacity to treat wastewater effectively, Wastewater Management, A UN-Water Analytical Brief, produced by WHO, UNEP and UN-Habitat, on behalf of UN-Water, describes the damage being done to ecosystems and biodiversity as ‘dire’ and warns of the threat wastewater will increasingly pose to human health, economic activity, and water security if left unaddressed. The report released on 2 February comes timely as discussions on how to expand water monitoring in the Post-2015 Development Agenda are underway. A new initiative launched by several UN-Water Members under the UN-Water umbrella is looking into how to best support Member States to develop water-related monitoring systems for sustainable development that are technically feasible, flexible, adaptable and cost-effective.

The first consultation of the initiative was held in Geneva on 29-30 January with Member States and technical experts to have a concrete exchange on the proposed indicator framework and methods for the analysis of wastewater, water quality and water resources management. The Ambassador for Bangladesh, H.E. Mr. Shameem Ahsan, welcomed the initiative underlining the importance for the “sustainable and equitable path to growth for the least developed countries.” Johan Gely, from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation which provides substantive support to the initiative said that “…by 2050 over 50% of the global population will be living in regions under water stress and the impact will be counted in trillions of dollar. We need to increase our spending on water monitoring”.