The United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in the year 2000. They included the target of halving the proportion of the population without access to water and sanitation. At the time, 25% of the world population did not have access to water, and 51% to sanitation services.
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Worldwide, 800 million people do not have running water. This is equivalent to the inhabitants of geographical Europe (from the Urals to the Rock of Gibraltar). This figure is terrifying, but leaves room for hope. On the eve of the deadline to attain the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG), it has been possible to halve the proportion of the population which in 1990 did not have running water. The UN was pursuing an objective of only 12% of the world population not having access to water.
Water is a vital commodity and a basic need for fulfilment of the MDG. It is impossible to eradicate poverty (MDG 1), reduce child mortality (MDG 4), promote gender equality (MDG 3), achieve universal primary education (MDG 2), combat major diseases – HIV, Malaria…- (MDG 6), improve maternal health (MDG 5) or ensure environmental sustainability (MDG 7) if we do not guarantee universal access to water.
We are facing a huge challenge: 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation services. Over a third of the world population does not have adequate facilities. To continue with the comparison, this is equivalent to all the inhabitants of India and China. It is no consolation that in 1990 half of the earth’s inhabitants did not have improved sanitation services, as the MDG has not been attained.
Water, a basic and indifferent commodity in advanced societies, becomes an unattainable luxury in many places of the world.
The responsibility of those of us who form part of Agbar is based on the need to provide everyone with running water and sanitation services. Water is a human right, and the companies which form part of our group work to supply communities and governments with the technology, management and knowledge necessary to use this basic resource efficiently and responsibly. With a long-term, inclusive vision which takes into account all the needs of the environment.
We cannot fail in this, our sphere. We have a duty of responsibility.