International UN-Water Conference. Water in the Green Economy in Practice: Towards Rio+20. 3-5 October 2011

Issues information briefs

For the purposes of the Conference, the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) has produced a series of information briefs on different issues and tools addressed.

Transitioning to a green economy requires a shift from current practice. The UN-Water conference has identified four priority water-related issues where this change needs to take place: for cities, watersheds, agriculture and industries. The issues information briefs introduce the main challenges, opportunities and key facts related to each of the issues identified. The briefs also outline a set of practices and approaches for transitioning to the green economy as highlighted by the organisations participating in the conference. These approaches are illustrated with case studies featured in the conference. The following issues are covered by these information briefs:

  • Water and Agriculture in the Green Economy [235 KB - PDF document]
    - Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawals.
    - 2.6 billion people work in the food and agriculture sector. This is 40% of today's global population.
    - One-sixth of the world's population goes hungry today.
  • Water and Cities in the Green Economy [209 KB - PDF document]
    - Half of humanity now lives in cities.
    - In urban areas 94% of people have access to improved drinking water sources compared to 76% in rural areas.
  • Water and Industry in the Green Economy [202 KB - PDF document]
    - The industrial sector uses about 20% of global freshwater withdrawals. This includes water for hydro and nuclear power generation, industrial processes and thermal power generation.
    - The annual water volume used by industry will rise from 752 km3 per year in 1995 to an estimated 1,170 km3 per year in 2025, i.e. about 24% of total freshwater withdrawals.
  • Watersheds and aquifers in the Green Economy [180 KB - PDF document]
    - Less than 3% of the world's water is fresh; the rest is seawater and undrinkable.
    - Groundwater represents about 90% of the world's readily available freshwater resources.