Archive for Facts and figures

Facts and figures on water and refugees, in commemoration of world refugee day (20 june)

It is estimated that there are presently some 30 million environmental refuges and a further 17 million other refugees and displaced persons from wars, persecution and other causes. The former have fled from resource scarcity, from deforestation and environmental degradation, climate change impacts, overpopulation, displacement by development projects, etc.

It has been suggested that the number of environmental refugees could rise to 150 million by 2050 as one of the results of climate change.
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Facts and figures water footprints and virtual water

The water footprint of an individual, business or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the foods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation. A water footprint is generally expressed in terms of the volume of water use per year.


Since not all goods consumed in one particular country are produced in that country, the water footprint consists of two parts: use of domestic water resources and use of water outside the borders of the country. The water footprint includes both the water withdrawn from surface and groundwater and the use of soil water (in agricultural production).
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Facts and figures about desertification

Desertification has been defined as land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.


Desertification directly affects over 250 million people. It threatens the lives of some 1.2 billion people in 110 countries who are among the world’s poorest and who depend on land for most of their needs.

A third of the Earth’s land surface, or over 4 billion hectares, is threatened by desertification.

Each year, desertification and drought cause an estimated US$ 42 billion in lost agricultural production worldwide. The annual cost of fighting land degradation is estimated at US$ 2.4 billion. Read more

Facts and figures about deserts

Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth’s surface.

With an area of 9,100,000 km2, the Sahara is the largest desert in the world and occupies approximately 10% of the African Continent.


The driest desert of the world is the Atacama Desert in Chile. For the period between 1964 and 2001, the average annual rainfall at the meteorological station in Quillagua was just 0.5 mm.
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Facts and figures about water and law

Because of its value and its importance in all aspects of life, water is a highly political issue.

International water law concerns the rights and obligations that exist, primarily between States, for the management of transboundary water resources. Such legal rules and principles are dedicated to preventing conflict and promoting cooperation of shared water resources.


The chief international legal document related to international water resources management is the ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses’, adopted by the UN General Assembly in May 1997. This Convention applies to uses of international watercourses and of their waters for purposes other than navigation and to measures of protection, preservation and management related to the uses of those watercourses and their waters. Read more