Tap into economic growth with water, says UN

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Investing in water and sanitation could bring massive returns, according to this year’s United Nations World Water Development Report. Photo: UNICEF/Karin Schermbrucker

Water plays a key role in job creation and shortages could seriously harm economic growth in future, UN experts said on Tuesday, which is World Water Day.

Announcing new data highlighting how greatly jobs are influenced by the resource, the 2016 United Nations World Water Development Report notes that 1.5 billion people are employed in water-dependent industries.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

When you turn on the tap for a drink, chances are that job creation isn't on your mind, but the evidence is becoming crystal clear that water is a key driver of economic growth.

According to a new UN report published on World Water Day, there's increasing evidence that precious resource has a huge influence on work.

Here's Carrion Crespo, from the International Labour Organization, which helped produce the World Water Development Report 2016:

"So many workers depend on water. The quality and the quantity of water supply and also sanitation influence the quality and the quantity of the jobs of these water-related sectors."

The UN study shows that in Africa, investment in safe water and sanitation could bring a return of about US$30 billion a year – that's nearly five per cent of the continent's economic output.

Despite all the evidence pointing to the economic benefits of investing in water, there are real fears of shortages, since the world's population is expected to increase from seven to nine billion by 2050.

Climate change is set to put further pressure on water availability, but UN experts say it could also lead to jobs opportunities in new areas, such as rainwater harvesting and waste water recycling, if investment can be found.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'15"


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