U.N. Chief Says Humanity’s Survival Depends On ‘Charting New Course’ To Control One Vital Resource
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), speaks to the media before the European Union (EU) leaders summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. The EU's military support for Ukraine will feature among the key topics of discussion, on the heels of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin
Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mankind’s hope for survival depends on the United Nations’ efforts to find new ways to manage the world’s water supply, according to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Guterres joined leaders from developing countries at a conference on global water resources earlier this week, warning nations about water shortages and sanitation and advocating for “a new course” of action. 

“All of humanity’s hopes for the future depend, in some way, on charting a new course to sustainably manage and conserve water,” Guterres said in his final remarks for the conference on Friday, according to the Associated Press. The U.N. chief added that water “needs to be at the center of the global political agenda.”

Prior to the conference, Guterres remarked that this year’s gathering, which was hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands, “must result in a bold Water Action Agenda that gives our world’s lifeblood the commitment it deserves.”

The U.N. is pushing for universal access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene by 2030, a goal it calls “SDG6.” The U.N. blames climate change and underinvestment in water for the water problems faced by poorer countries. 

To push for more control of the world’s water systems, SDG6 outlines six targets for the world to hit by 2030, the last of which seeks to “expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies.” 

A video on the U.N.’s 2023 Water Conference website says that “water can be the driver for a green economy, water is essential for food security, water is fundamental to climate resilience, and water can be the dealmaker for peace.” 

“Humanity’s demand for water is growing,” the video continues. “Pressure on water resources is increasing due to overuse, pollution, and climate change. On average, the world needs to work 4x faster to achieve SDG6 by 2030. We can and must do more. We must unite for water.” 


The 2023 U.N. water conference was a huge success, according to Li Junhua, who formerly worked in China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and is now the U.N.’s under-secretary-general for Economic and Social Affairs.

“At the 2023 UN Water Conference, a determined global community came together to make a difference not only for the future of water but for the future of the world,” Li said.

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