The End Water Poverty petition hopes to collect 1m signatures before the leaders of the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US meet in early July.

More than a quarter of a million people are still needed to sign the petition, which is addressed to Japanese Prime Minister and this year’s G8 host Yasuo Fukuda.

The End Water Poverty campaign has been working since 2007 to encourage G8 members to agree a global action plan for sanitation and water.

Campaigners say the international development community and governments in developing countries treat water and sanitation as marginal issues and say the volume of spending on the sector has remained largely stagnant over the last ten years.

As one of its Millennium Development Goals, the UN aims to halve, by 2015, the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Earlier this year, the UK-based trade association CIWEM (Chartered Institution for Water and Environmental Management) warned that this goal is likely to be missed by 600m people.

The petition can be found here.

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