Sustainable Development Goals

Indicator 6.4.2 - Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

The level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources is the ratio between total freshwater withdrawn by major economic sectors and total renewable freshwater resources, after taking into account environmental water requirements. This indicator is also known as water withdrawal intensity and will measure progress towards SDG Target 6.4.

Target 6.4

By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

Impact

This indicator will improve knowledge on the efficiency and sustainability of water usage. Together with indicator 6.4.1, it will provide vital information to ensure that water resources support the world's ecosystems and continue to be available for future generations.

Key results

Water stress continues to rise in already critically affected regions.  

At the global level, SDG Indicator 6.4.2 remained at a safe level according to the latest data (18.6 percent), but this figure masks substantial regional variations. In 2019, Southern Asia and Central Asia had high levels of water stress (76.5 percent and 80.3 percent, respectively), whereas Northern Africa had critical water stress (120.5 percent). The global water stress level increased by 0.3 percentage points between 2015 and 2019. At the regional level, the increase in water stress levels has been significant in Western Asia and Northern Africa, registering an increase of 12.7 percentage points. Meanwhile, Central and Southern Asia is the only region that saw an improvement in water stress levels over the period, with a decline of 0.9 percentage points.  

While high levels of water stress require urgent attention due to their damaging consequences, water stress in other regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America, is low enough to allow some countries to sustainably increase water use, provided that adequate precautions are taken. In regions affected by high water stress, urgent and concrete measures are required to save water and increase water use efficiency. 

Highlights

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