A global initiative towards making all drinking water lead-free by 2040

Nothing is more fundamental to human health and well-being than access to safe drinking water.

In 2016, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 6 – a universal call to action to provide access to safe and affordable drinking water to every person, everywhere, by 2030.

As part of our global commitment to provide water that is free from microbial hazards and priority chemical contaminants that impact human health, we launch this global initiative to work towards lead-free drinking water by 2040.

A bucket of water being filled by an outdoor faucet
UN + global lead-free water logos
Our side event at the UN Water 2023 conference NY was a success!

Thank you for everyone who participated in our side event! It was standing-room only and we continue to sign up organizations and nations to support the initiative.

Man installing a new water pump with 3 children watching on.
A man installing a water pump.
What’s at stake?

Lead is an invisible, odorless and tasteless chemical contaminant present in water supply systems worldwide. The primary source of lead in many systems is lead-containing pipes and parts that leach lead into the water.

No safe level of lead exposure has been identified. Lead is a toxin that irreversibly impacts neurological and cognitive development. Acute or chronic childhood exposure to lead causes lifelong harm. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause fetal deaths and developmental abnormalities. Yet today environmental exposures to lead remains a significant global challenge.

Globally, 800 million, or roughly 1 in 3, children have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

There is an urgent need to reduce human exposure to lead in the environment, including to lead in drinking water – a source of exposure that is wholly preventable. Children, in particular, must be able to grow in a lead-free environment. The Lead-Free Water Pledge aims to build momentum around local and global initiatives to progressively reduce exposure to lead from drinking water and protect public health. Our goal is to work collectively towards preventing lead-leaching from new drinking water systems by 2030 and to make all drinking water lead free by 2040.

Founding partners

Government and Intergovernmental Organizations
South Africa
South Africa
World Health Organization
World Health Organization
Non-Governmental Organizations
ARC Africa
ASTM International
Addis Ababa University
Advanced Study Institute of Asia
African Children & Youth Development
Agency for Community Development Aid
The Aquaya Institute
Banka BioLoo Limited
Catholic Relief Services
Christian Fellowship and Care
Coldstream Filters
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Design Outreach
FIX-A-TAP Australia
Food for the Hungry
Green Empowerment
International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research
Int’l Assoc. of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials
The International Water Association
LEAPP Alliance
Living Water International
Mboni ya Vijana Group
Millennium Water Alliance
Plumbing Industry Climate Action
RTI International
Rural Water Supply Network
School Safety Outreach
Su Kuyusu Dernegi
Tanzania Humanity Charity and Hope
UNC Water Institute
University of Leeds
Water Futures
Wine To Water
Wise Scales
World Plumbing Council
World Vision

Latest news

Join the pledge!

Use this form to express your country’s or organizational interest in becoming a Partner on the Pledge (our team will follow-up with you).
This website is managed by the UNC Water Institute on behalf of the informal Toxic Metals Working Group. The contents of this website do not necessarily reflect the positions of the individual partner countries and organizations. Within the context of the World Health Organization’s work on water quality and safety, the WHO is committed to supporting Member States in achieving the commitments in this pledge.

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