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Backgrounder: State of the world's water resources

(Xinhua)

14:37, March 13, 2012

MARSEILLE, France, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The world's water resources are facing increasing pressure from soaring demand and climate change, the latest edition of the United Nation's World Water Development Report (WWDR) warned on Monday.

The report, released every three years and now in its fourth edition, was officially unveiled at the Sixth World Water Forum opening Monday in Marseille, southern France.

Here are some key facts and figures about the state of the planet's water resources released in the flagship UN report:

Over 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water. But only 2.5 percent of the water resources is potentially available for human, animal and plant consumption. Moreover, the spatial distribution of fresh water is highly uneven.

Agricultural consumption of water in irrigation and food production accounts for about 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals and may increase by about 19 percent by 2050.

Water is also indispensable for the production of energy and electricity and an integral part of many industrial processes.

The main source of human demand for water comes from urban communities requiring water for drinking, sanitation and drainage.

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