A call to action to protect, sustainably manage and ensure equal access to water for all, is addressed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the occasion of today’s World Water Day.

“We don’t have a moment to lose. Let’s make 2023 a year of transformation and investment for the life of humanity,” declares Antonio Guterres.

At the beginning of his message, the UN Secretary General emphasizes that water is the soul of our world. “From health and nutrition, to education and infrastructure, water is vital to every aspect of human survival and well-being, as well as to the economic growth and prosperity of any nation,” he notes.

At the same time, it highlights the dangers of pollution and climate change. “Drop by drop, this precious soul is being poisoned by pollution and drained by overuse, with water demand expected to outstrip supply by 40% by the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, climate change is wreaking havoc on the natural water cycle. Greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise to all-time record levels, warming the world’s climate to dangerous levels. This exacerbates water-related disasters, disease outbreaks, water scarcity and drought, while causing damage to infrastructure, food production and supply chains,” he notes.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s World Water Day, it highlights the cost of these failures to the billions of people who do not have access to safe water and sanitation. “Out of every 100 people on earth, 25 get all their water from open streams and lakes – or pay high prices to buy water of dubious safety. 22 relieve themselves outdoors or use dirty, unsafe or broken latrines. And 44 see their wastewater returned to nature untreated, with devastating health and environmental consequences. In short, our world is dramatically—and dangerously—off track to achieving our goal of safe water and sanitation management for all by 2030.”

He further notes that this year’s World Water Day is a reminder of our individual and collective roles in protecting and sustainably using and managing the soul of humanity for present and future generations.

In this context, he makes special reference to the United Nations Water Conference, which begins today. “It is a critical time for national governments, local and regional authorities, businesses, scientists, youth, civil society organizations and communities to join forces and jointly design and invest in solutions for achieving clean water and sanitation for all,” he says.

Finally, the UN secretary-general is sending a message to governments, businesses and investors, underlining the need to take much bolder action to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, with the G20 leading the way. “We must break our addiction to fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy sources, while supporting developing countries every step of the way,” he also declares.