BEIJING, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Themed with "Accelerating Change," this year's World Water Day which fell on Wednesday aims to raise awareness about the urgent need to conserve and protect limited freshwater resources.
Water is essential for all forms of life and is one of the most important resources for human survival and development.
Despite covering two-thirds of the Earth's surface, the world's freshwater resources are extremely limited. Only about 2.5 percent of the world's water is freshwater, and around 90 percent is inaccessible due to being trapped in polar ice caps, glaciers and snow.
In addition, a significant proportion of deep groundwater resources are difficult to access and use. As a result, the amount of freshwater resources available to humans is quite limited, accounting for less than 0.3 percent of the total global water resources, and unevenly distributed.
Thus, the world is facing a serious crisis of water resources.
Data from the United Nations (UN) shows that almost two billion people worldwide, which amounts to one in four people, do not have access to safe drinking water. Additionally, around 1.4 million people die annually due to diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. As a result, an estimated 74 million people are likely to have a shortened life expectancy due to water-related problems.
Meanwhile, about 44 percent of the wastewater produced by households worldwide is not treated effectively, posing a substantial risk to public health.
One of the main objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Water is the lifeblood of our world. From health and nutrition to education and infrastructure, water is vital to every aspect of human survival and well-being, and the economic development and prosperity of every nation, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a message for World Day Observance recently.
"This year's World Water Day reminds us of our individual and collective roles to protect and sustainably use and manage humanity's lifeblood for present and future generations," said Guterres in the message.
On Jan. 18, 1993, the 47th session of the UN General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day, with the purpose of raising public awareness of water conservation and strengthen the protection of water resources. ■