most half the population of the developing world do not have access to adequate sanitation. At least 1.8 million children un- der five years old die every year due to water related disease, accounting for around 17 per cent of deaths in this age group. Worldwide some 2.2 million people die each year from diar- rhoeal disease. Poor hygiene and unsafe water is responsible for around 88 per cent of all diarrhoeal incidents.
Under-dimensioned and aged wastewater infrastructure is al- ready overwhelmed, and with predicted population increases and changes in the climate the situation is only going to get worse. Without better infrastructure and management, many millions of people will continue to die each year and there will be further losses in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, un- dermining prosperity and efforts towards a more sustainable future. A healthier future needs urgent global action for smart, sustained investment to improve wastewater management.
Change is both essential and possible. As a part of the shift to a green economy, the public sector including national, provin- cial and local governments must be more proactive in fund- ing wastewater management, central to which will be issues of equity and social justice. To find solutions we will need to draw on a cocktail of existing and new policy approaches and funding mechanisms, from better water quality legislation and voluntary agreements, to market-based instruments and partnership-based financing and management models bring- ing together the public and private sectors, not forgetting the vital role of education.
Wise investments in wastewater management will generate significant returns, as addressing wastewater is a key step in
reducing poverty and sustaining ecosystem services. Instead of being a source of problems, well-managed wastewater will be a positive addition to the environment which in turn will lead to improved food security, health and therefore economy. One fifth of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion people, live in areas of water scarcity, and this is projected to increase to 3 billion by 2025 as water stress and populations increase. There is no option but to consider wastewater as part of the solution. To be successful and sustainable, wastewater management must be an integral part of rural and urban development planning, across all sectors, and where feasible transcending political, ad- ministrative and jurisdictional borders. There are few, if any, ar- eas where investments in integrated planning can sustainably provide greater returns across multiple sectors than the devel- opment of water infrastructure and the promotion of improved wastewater management.
The first part of this report addresses the critical challenges we face in managing wastewater and considers the implications for people and the environment across different sectors, and how these may be influenced by issues such as population growth, urbanization and climate change.
The second part looks at solutions and how these challenges can be turned around. Finding appropriate solutions will require in- novation at both ends of the pipe. Innovation to reduce the vol- ume and contamination of wastewater produced, how to treat or even reuse the waste, and how to do it in an affordable sustain- able way. The report reviews how the production and treatment cycle can be better understood and managed so that through better investment and management major environmental, soci- etal, and economic dividends can be achieved.