While the importance of water for human and ecosystem survival has been known for thousands of years, water has not been on the international political agenda until around the mid-1970s. In 1977, during the United Nations Water Conference, held at a very high decision-making level, it firmly entered the global political agenda for the first time. This Conference declared the decade of 1981–1990 to be the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (IWSSD). This was approved by the United Nations General Assembly. The objective was that by the end of this Decade, every person in the world would have access to clean water and adequate sanitation (Biswas, 1978). The target was very ambitious, and, not surprisingly, it could not be met. However, by any definition, the Decade was remarkably successful since it ensured that hundreds of millions of people in the developing world had access to water which would not have happened without the forces that were unleashed by this Decade (Biswas and Tortajada, 2009).
By Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada, Chapter of the book: Univer-Cities Reshaping Strategies to Meet Radical Change, Pandemics and Inequality Revisiting the Social Compact?, edited by Anthony Teo, 2021, World Scientific, Singapore, pages 117–138. DOI: 10.1142/9789811234255_0009