Having an essential resource such as drinking water “at hand” has become a given for people and economic operators in industrialised countries. But the apparent simplicity is, perhaps, inversely proportional to the complexity that lies upstream. It is thanks to extraordinary technological and scientific advances, established over decades, that millions of people around the world are now able to safely consume water.
However, this facility raises questions as to the sustainability of this resource. It is a scientific truism that there is a shortage of fresh water as a natural element and increasing pressure on water resources. There is therefore a growing need to restore this element to nature after use and treatment, using sophisticated technological means, whether in a social or industrial context. This is the only way to offset the direct extraction of this element from nature, which, despite involving a long, time-consuming and complex cycle, ensures the sustainability of something so essential to life.
Despite the extraordinary progress in this regard, there is a long way to go in order to guarantee universal access. Looking at current data, according to UNICEF and WHO, there are more than 2.2 million people, i.e., more than a quarter of the world's population, who still do not have access to purified water. It is therefore far from being a benefit for all.
The importance of this topic led the UN to recognise water as a human right in 2010, irrespective of social, economic or cultural status, gender or ethnicity. Reinforcing this initiative, as part of the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals, the organisation adopted the aim of “Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of drinking water and sanitation for all”, to be fulfilled by 2030.