2016 UN World Water Development Report, Water and Jobs

UN Water
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Three out of four of the jobs worldwide are water-dependent. In fact, water shortages and lack of access may limit economic growth in the years to come, according to the 2016 United Nations World Water Development Report, Water and Jobs, which was launched on 22 March, World Water Day, in Geneva.

From its collection, through various uses, to its ultimate return to the natural environment, water is a key factor in the development of job opportunities either directly related to its management (supply, infrastructure, wastewater treatment, etc.) or in economic sectors that are heavily water-dependent such as agriculture, fishing, power, industry and health. Furthermore, good access to drinking water and sanitation promotes an educated and healthy workforce, which constitutes an essential factor for sustained economic growth.

In its analysis of the economic impact of access to water, the report cites numerous studies that show a positive correlation between investments in the water sector and economic growth. It also highlights the key role of water in the transition to a green economy.


by Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations

Sustainable development, human migration, conflict and natural disasters: water cuts across these and many other major issues on the global agenda. Employment is another key factor in population movements, civil unrest and environmental sustainability. The 2016 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report, which was coordinated by the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO in collaboration with UN-Water Members and other partners, illustrates how the connection between water and jobs holds the promise of inclusive and sustainable economic growth for all countries. Its findings can serve to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals, which are all interlinked, including Goal 6 covering water and sanitation for all, and Goal 8 addressing decent work for all. Among its findings, this report shows that many jobs in the global workforce depend on water. It demonstrates that water stress and the lack of decent work can exacerbate security challenges. It also traces the link between scarce or poor quality water, damaged ecosystems and instability that can lead to forced migration. The main message of the report is clear: water is essential to decent jobs and sustainable development. Now is the time to increase investments in protecting and rehabilitating water resources, including drinking water, as well as sanitation while focusing on generating employment. I commend this report to all those interested in joining forces to realize our bold vision for sustainable development aimed at creating a future where all people live in dignity on a healthy and peaceful planet. 

UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)