LIBRO BIANCO SULLA RISORSA IDRICA | Potabilizzazione, depurazione, scarichi e riutilizzo - page 8

Life cannot exist without water. And human life cannot exist
without fresh water. In 1977 at Mar de Plata, Argentina, the
United Nations Water Conference defined access to clean drinking
water as a basic human right: “All peoples,whatever their stage of
development and social and economic conditions, have the right to
have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to
their basic needs.”
Three decades later in September 2010 the United Nations further
defined the right of access to clean drinking water aspart of
international law and therefore legally binding on all countries of
the world. The United Nations called upon its member States to
develop appropriate tools andmechanisms to achieve progressively
the full realization of human rights obligations related to access to
safe drinking water and sanitation, including in currently unserved
and underserved areas.
The exhortations of the United Nations could not be more urgent.
Nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but less than
1% of the Earth’s water can be used directly by human beings for
drinking or agricultural use. It is estimated that water consumption
doubles every twenty years, and that by 2025 demand for clean
water will exceed supply bymore than 50%, leaving 2.5 billion people
in a state of water shortage, which is also known as water stress.
Continued water stress could have devastating consequences on
all people, not just from developing nations. The continued water
shortage in the state of California in the United States is just one
example of many of water stress.
As in any basic economics calculus, as demand exceeds supply
prices will rise. The rise of water costs will also mean increases
in food and energy prices and potential environmental, hydro-
geological, and agricultural destabilization. Such destabilization in
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