Humanity’s survival depends on how people manage water, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the end of a three-day conference on global water resources during which developing nations made urgent calls for help with cleaner drinking water and better sanitation, Report informs via the Associated Press.

“All of humanity’s hopes for the future depend, in some way, on charting a new course to sustainably manage and conserve water,” Guterres said in his closing remarks.

This includes rational use of water for agriculture and more aggressive action against climate change, he said, and water “needs to be at the center of the global political agenda.”

The UN World Water Development Report, issued on the eve of the conference, says 26% of the world’s population — 2 billion people — don’t have access to safe drinking water and 46% — 3.6 billion people — lack access to basic sanitation. UN research also shows that almost half the world’s people will suffer severe water stress by 2030.

The conference included many verbal pledges to improve water supplies, but fewer detailed commitments translating ambition into improved daily life for ordinary people.

“”We have such beautiful, ambitious policies, but in a way they are unfeasible,” said Lina Taing, senior researcher at the global think tank United Nations University.

She said when it comes to getting people clean water and sanitation, “we know that we are completely off track.” Taing said the world needs to increase its actions “four times.”