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Raising investments in water infrastructure globally and cracking down on corruption would result in over $1 trillion per year in benefits related to health, the economy and environmental protection, according to a new study backed by the United Nations (UN).

The research concluded that spending between $840 billion to $1.8 trillion per year, which equals about 2.2 percent of the global gross domestic product, over the next two decades could significantly improve water supplies across the globe, ensure universal access to drinking water and sanitation and boost other water-related services, such as hydro power and irrigation.

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At present the average annual investment in water infrastructure around the world is about $500 billion but an increase would yield more than $3 trillion dollars in benefits, the UN University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health said. A sharp increase in investment would bring a range of benefits like direct economic return, lower healthcare costs, livelihood creation and the preservation of global ecosystems, Reuters reported.

The study offers the first long-term analysis of global water costs and is intended to help in the ongoing water management and supply debate. Official UN data shows that approximately one third of the world's population, or about 2.5 billion people, have no access to sanitation and about one in ten have no safe drinking water.