Water is fundamental for life and survival on Earth. The use of water has intensified dramatically over recent decades and in many places we are now at a point where water shortages, water quality degradation and aquatic ecosystem destruction are seriously limiting the prospects for socio-economic and political stability as well as ecosystem integrity. Recognizing that water is critical for sustainable development, the United Nations designated 2013 the Year of Water Cooperation, and will focus on the lessons that can be learned from successful water cooperation initiatives.
Without clean water and improved sanitation services, no country can meet its sustainable development goals. Advances in health, food security, access to energy, resilient economic growth and climate change all depend on water. The lack of access to clean drinking water and subsequent exposure to waterborne illnesses remains a leading cause of death worldwide, affecting women and children most of all among poor communities.