Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

How to increase food production using less water is one of the great challenges of our times.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation affect food security, nutrition and educational and economic opportunities for poor families across the world. 

Crops and livestock already account for 70 percent of all water withdrawals and up to 95 percent in some developing countries. Water withdrawal for irrigation and livestock will increase as global population growth and economic development drive food demand up. Dietary trends point to a global increase in consumption of food that requires more water to be produced.

FAO works with countries to ensure water use in agriculture is made more efficient, productive and environmentally friendly. This involves producing more food while using less water, building resilience of farming communities to cope with floods and droughts and applying clean water technologies. FAO also supports countries to monitor water resources use and levels of water stress.


The success of the Sustainable Development Goals rests to a large extent on effective monitoring, review and follow-up processes. SDG indicators are the foundation of this new global framework for mutual accountability. FAO is the ‘custodian’ UN agency for 21 indicators, for SDGs 2, 5, 6, 12, 14 and 15 and a contributing agency for four more. 

6.4.1 Change in water use efficiency over time

6.4.2 Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

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