United Nations Environment Programme

Vital Water Graphics
An overview of the world's fresh and marine waters

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been at the forefront of assessing and monitoring global water resources and presenting information on their use and management for 30 years. UNEP has compiled this report in order to provide an easily accessible resource on the state of the world's waters. The goal of this publication is to produce a clear overview, through a set of graphics, maps and other illustrations, of the state of the world's fresh and marine waters. It also illustrates the causes, effects, trends and threats facing our water sources, with examples of areas of major concern and future scenarios for the use and management of fresh, coastal and marine waters.

Global freshwater consumption rose sixfold between 1900 and 1995 - more than twice the rate of population growth. About one third of the world's population already lives in countries considered to be 'water stressed' - that is, where consumption exceeds 10% of total supply. If present trends continue, two out of every three people on Earth will live in that condition by 2025.

-- Kofi Annan, in We The Peoples, 2000


About this report


Executive summary

Freshwater resources

Water use and management

Problems related to freshwater resources

Coastal and marine waters


Links to websites related to water issues


List of institutions and organisations

High-resolution (eps format) images




Copyright © 2002 United Nations Environment Programme
This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non-profit purposes without special permission from the copyright holder, provided acknowledgement of the source is made. UNEP would appreciate receiving a copy of any material that uses this publication as a source. No use of this publication may be made for resale or for any other commercial purpose whatsoever without prior permission in writing from the United Nations Environment Programme.