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Field Detail
Code MDG-7.5
MDG code MDG-7.5
Name Total water resources used (%)
Definition Proportion of total renewable water resources withdrawn is the total volume of groundwater and surface water withdrawn from their sources for human use (in the agricultural, municipal and industrial sectors), expressed as a percentage of the total actual renewable water resources. The terms water resources and water withdrawal are understood as freshwater resources and freshwater withdrawal. Water withdrawal is estimated for the following three main sectors: agriculture, municipalities (including domestic water withdrawal) and industries, at country level and expressed in km3/year. The total actual renewable water resources for a country or region are defined as the sum of internal renewable water resources and the external renewable water resources, also expressed in km3/year. Internal renewable water resources are defined as the average annual flow of rivers and recharge of groundwater for a given country or region generated from endogenous precipitation. External renewable water resources refer to the flows of water entering the country or region, taking into consideration the quantity of flows reserved to upstream and downstream countries through agreements or treaties and (if available) reduction of flow due to upstream withdrawal. The indicator is computed by dividing total water withdrawal by total actual renewable water resources and expressed in percentage points.
Calculation/Formula (Total water withdrawal / Total actual renewable water resources) x100
Unit of Measure %
Assumptions Water withdrawal as a percentage of water resources is a good indicator of the pressure on limited water resources, one of the most important natural resources. However, it only partially addresses the issues related to sustainable water management. Indicators that would capture the multiple dimensions of water management would combine data on water demand management, behavioural changes with regard to water use and the availability of appropriate infrastructure, and measure progresses in increasing the efficiency and sustainability of water use, in particular with regard to population and economic growth. They would also recognize the different climatic environments that affect water use in countries, in particular in agriculture, which is the main user of water. Sustainability assessment is also linked to the critical thresholds fixed for this indicator and there is no consensus on such threshold. UN-Water is currently working towards the development of a set of more satisfactory water-related indicators.
Purpose/Rationale The purpose of this indicator is to show the degree to which total renewable water resources are being exploited to meet the country's water demand. It is a measure of a country's pressure on its water resources and therefore on the sustainability of its water use. The indicator can show to what extent water resources are already used, and the need for adjusted supply and demand management policy. It can give an indication of increasing competition and conflict between different water uses and users in a situation of increasing water scarcity. Increased water scarcity, measured by an increase in the value of the indicator, has negative effects on the sustainability of the natural resources base and subsequent negative effects on economic development. On the other hand, very low values of the indicator can indicate that there still is potential for increase in water use in a sustainable way.
Preferred Data Sources FAO
Primary Data Collection System Survey - International Agency / Global Monitoring
Frequency of Data Collection Annual
SPC Responsibility - Data Management SDP
SPC Programme SDP
Numerator Total water withdrawal
Denominator Total actual renewable water resources
Factor x 100
Unit %
Other Metadata Link http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx