Science and data for people


SDG Policy Brief

Please click on to access data/background information.

Fresh water under threat Environment Live, Statistics UN Environment


The Sustainable Development Goals Policy Briefs highlight a hotspot of environmental concern. The evidence provided builds on the scientific data and information hosted on the online platform Environment Live and is complemented by stories from around the world. Readers are invited to explore the numerous clickable links throughout the Brief.

Freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers are primarily affected by over-extraction, dumping of waste, discharge of wastewater and climate change. These ecosystems are essential for human health, biodiversity, and the functioning of other ecosystems on land and at sea. They provide important goods and services and are necessary for the replenishment and purification of water resources. By covering the entire water cycle and addressing the sustainability of water and sanitation access by focusing on the quality, availability and management of freshwater resources, SDG 6 acknowledges these links..

UN Environment is the Custodian Agency for three key indicators related to “Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems

Protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems Freshwater Ecosystems Management GEMS water UN Environment SDG Goals Keep it Clear Campaign #KEEPITCLEAR
Page two Agricultural area Fertilizer consumption Produced municipal wastewater Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality (SDG 6.3.2) Water body extent (permanent), km2 Water stress (SDG Indicator 6.4.2) Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100) (SDG 6.5.1) A Snapshot of the World’s Water Quality: Towards a global assessment FAO Report - More people, more food, worse water? A global review of water pollution from agriculture Sick Water? The Central Role Of Wastewater Management In Sustainable Development Towards a Clean World for All: An IEG Evaluation of the World Bank Group’s Support to Pollution Management The UN WWDR 2018 Nature-Based Solutions for Water GEO5 Sustainable Development Goal 6 Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation Ramsar Convention UNECE Water Convention Nature Conservancy Water Action Decade Water Pollution Management Compendium of Water Quality Regulatory Frameworks Framework for Freshwater Ecosystem Management Nature-Based Solutions for Water Regulating Wastewater Treatment Aquatic Ecosystems

Inititatives on the ground