The United Nations says two billion people globally lack safe drinking water.
This is according to a UNESCO report released ahead of the UN Water Conference in New York on Wednesday.
The UN agency said the world is facing a “global water crisis’’ due to population growth, socioeconomic development and changing consumption patterns.
It also said that another 3.6 billion lacked access to safely managed sanitation.
“There is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control,’’ said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
“Water is our common future, and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably.’’
The global urban population facing water scarcity is projected to potentially double from 930 million in 2016 to between 1.7 and 2.4 billion people, in 2050.
The rising incidence of extreme and prolonged droughts is also stressing ecosystems, with dire consequences for both plant and animal species, the report said.
Editor-in-chief of the report Richard Connor said building partnerships and cooperation were key to realising human rights to water and overcoming existing challenges.
“If we don’t address it, there definitely will be a global crisis,’’ he said.
The UN Water Conference, co-hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan, would take place over three days in New York.
It was the first UN event of its kind focussing entirely on water policy in nearly 50 years.