The world is on track to run out of water, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned.
He issued the message on Wednesday, the International Day for Biological Diversity, whose theme for 2013 is Water and Biodiversity.
"Although seemingly abundant, only a tiny amount of the water on our planet is easily available as freshwater. We live in an increasingly water insecure world where demand often outstrips supply and where water quality often fails to meet minimum standards. Under current trends, future demands for water will not be met," he said.
As the UN and others have noted, if current water consumption levels continue, by as soon as 2025 1.8 billion people will live in areas with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population may live under water stressed conditions.
To achieve water security, biodiversity is essential, the UN's message emphasized.
"Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are central to achieving the vision of a water secure world," the UN chief continued. "Ecosystems influence the local, regional and global availability and quality of water. Forests help regulate soil erosion and protect water quality and supply. Wetlands can reduce flood risks. Soil biodiversity helps maintain water for crops."
"Integrating nature-based solutions into urban planning can also help us build better water futures for cities, where water stresses may be especially acute given the rapid pace of urbanization," he said.
A report issued last year from the Defense Intelligence Agency also warned that the world's freshwater supplies would not keep pace with the rising global demand for water -- a situation that could soon bring water wars.