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This goal measures contamination by chemicals, excessive nutrients (eutrophication), human pathogens and trash.

Water pollution harms human health, livelihoods, and recreation, as well as the health of marine life and habitats.

Lack of global datasets prevented inclusion of toxic algal blooms, oil spills, turbidity (sediment input), floating trash and other known contaminants in goal calculations. When available, they can be incorporated into the global assessment as well as regional assessments. 

Goal Score

78 The goal score for Goal: Clean Waters is 78 out of 100. The global average score is 70 out of 100.

Likely Future State


It is estimated that in the near future the score for Goal: Clean Waters will improve roughly +3%.
global score


What Does This Score Mean?

The reference point is that there should be zero pollution from chemicals, nutrient, human pathogens and trash. 

This goal score is higher when the pollution of estuarine, coastal, and open ocean waters is minimized. The goal score is lower when there are high levels of pollutants.

Current Score
The current score indicates that there large opportunities for improvement. Reducing the inflow of chemicals, nutrients, human and animal wastes and trash requires remedial actions at every level of society as well as adjustments to behavior on an individual basis.

Why Are Clean Waters Important?

People value marine waters that are free from pollution. Waters contaminated by oil spills, chemicals, eutrophication (excess nutrients primarily from fertilizers or sewage), harmful algal blooms, disease-causing pathogens, or trash can negatively impact human health, livelihoods, and recreational opportunities, as well as the health of marine wildlife and ecosystems. 

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