( dpa ) - Water scarcity had to be placed high on the global agenda UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon said Thursday.
"Time is running out, water is running out," he told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"We need to adapt to this reality. There is still enough water for all of us, but only if we keep it clean and share it," he added.
Water shortages were now to blame for a number of conflicts in the world such as Darfur and were caused by population growth, industrialization and urbanization and climate change.
"We face the challenge that we must make safer stores of water available for all," said Ban.
Around 1.2 billion people, 20 per cent of the population, now lived in areas where the limits of sustainable water use had already been reached or breached, according to UN figures.
The global population was set to rise above 9 billion by 2050 placing additional strain on global water resources.
Increasing demands for protein rich foods were also pushing up demands for water in agriculture.
In industry, water scarcity concerns were driving heavy investment to secure supplies.
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, CEO of Nestle, the world's largest food company criticized the use of water to produce biofuels.
"There is a human right to drinking water, but not just to fill up your swimming pool," he said saying water should be given a fair, tradeable price."
Coca Cola boss Neville Isdell said the water question ranked next to climate change.
For a 21st century company it was all about the triangle of water, food and climate change, he added.