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Sick water? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development

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PDF format Press release (Mar 22 2010)

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“With global action and positive momentum towards improving access to safe water and sanitation, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), and the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), in partnership with the members of UN Water have collaborated to bring together their collective experience and expertise to bear on the challenges posed by illegal and unregulated wastewater.

“Sick water? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development” not only identifies the threats to human and ecological health and the consequences of inaction, but also presents opportunities, where appropriate policy and management responses over the short and longer term can trigger employment, support livelihoods, boost public and ecosystem health and contribute to more intelligent water management.”

Interactive E-book | Graphics from the report | PDF format Full report (6mb)


The world is facing a global water quality crisis. Continuing population growth and urbanisation, rapid industralisation, and expanding and intensifying food production are all putting pressure on water resources and increasing the unregulated or illegal discharge of contaminated water within and beyond national borders. This presents a global threat to human health and wellbeing, with both immediate and long term consequences for efforts to reduce poverty whilst sustaining the integrity of some of our most productive ecosystems.

There are many causes driving this crisis, but it is clear that freshwater and coastal ecosystems across the globe, upon which humanity has depended for millennia, are increasingly threatened. It is equally clear that future demands for water cannot be met unless wastewater management is revolutionized.


Laurayne - 23 Apr 2010
The Global call to Action has been resounded it is now up to us. I am part of this cause, this lifestyle turnaround. We need to take ownership and do our part. It is time to promote Integrated Management Systems; appropriate regulations and institutional framework, public education and social awareness, sustainable and low impact operating systems, environmental sensitivity, byproduct reclamation and is a never ending list just chose your part.
martin angadia - 08 May 2010
i am so greatful for the initiative but iwould your institution to try implement it in the third world countries especially Africa(Kenya) because a lot of water is being lost sin the name of sewage and industry waste - 17 Jun 2010
Sure, this is an eye opener.We should be very serious about the dangers that we are leaving for the next generation.Necessary rules are to be framed wherever necessary, with an authority to hold the responsibility to take stringent action againest those who violates the directions.
mmalinoski - 10 Oct 2010
Great video, I love how you explained the problem of pollution in our waters in more than one way, then also applied a solution to one of the worst problems we have with pig farms....Nicely put together, kudos!
Brian Farber (Mundelien,Illinois) - 27 Oct 2010
It is so ashame that so many of Mankind only consumes but does not conserve for the future of our children and our childrens children. There are far too many people out there, who think they are just one person and what difference could they make!!! The difference is that if all of them thought about it as a group effort then and only then can we survive!
John Likwe - 25 May 2012
As we are living within degrading environment and as we are part and parcel to its degradation; there is a need to reverse the trend for harmonized future of our life and globe. Instruments and institutions should be underway to assist in waste water treatment and management such that no more sick water. Truly, the cost is high for technology and implementation scenarios but we have to pay by establishing user pay tax and not pulluter pay as together we can achieve to "de-sick water".
hashim mukhtar - 18 Sep 2012
in my country Sudan ,we have many sources for water for drinking,agriculture and industry but we suffer a lot from worst behavior to deal with these wealth which led our country to face dangerous situation in this field although many efforts were exerted to advance this important sector many years ago .
T.U. Khan, FIEB - 28 Dec 2013
In Bangladesh, huge volume of waste water is seriously endangering our water resources. Once the flowing rivers, now turned to be lagoons by character. In addition, most of the low lands & water catchment areas of the towns/ cities are filled in for Housing, industries and many other infrastructures. This is due to high density of population, fast & rapid urbanization, ill planned development & industrialization, extensive use of fertilization for agricultural produce and dishonesty in all sectors. Each of the aspects needs critical attention from the government agencies,experts & environment defending organizations. Other wise the health hazard will be so high that the country might suffer from critical catastrophe.

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