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Report // Progress on change in water-use efficiency: global status and acceleration needs for SDG indicator 6.4.1

Dependency between water use and global value added in the agriculture and services sectors appears to be a continuing trend. Within the industrial sector, however, water use has been reduced drastically for the generation of value added, meaning increased water-use efficiency. An analysis of how total withdrawals relate to GVA over the years reveals a potential decoupling of economic growth from water use since 2016. Nonetheless, these results are preliminary, and it is therefore too early for a solid conclusion to be made. Data availability and accuracy are crucial for the computation of indicator 6.4.1. More data need to be collected, ideally on an annual basis, to compute the indicator at the global level and for the various economic sectors, and also to observe any regional differences.

Un water progress report


The global indicator on water-use efficiency tracks to what extent a country’s economic growth is dependent on the use of water resources, and enables policy and decision-makers to target interventions at sectors with high water use and low levels of improved efficiency over time.

This indicator addresses the economic component of target 6.4. In this report, you can learn more about the global and country progress on water-use efficiency. More information and methodological guidance can be found here.

This report is part of a series that tracks progress towards the various targets set out in SDG 6 using the SDG global indicators. To learn more about water and sanitation in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6, visit this website.




Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN Water


Download the full report here.


FAO and UN Water. 2021. Progress on change in water-use efficiency. Global status and acceleration needs for SDG indicator 6.4.1, 2021. Rome.


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