UN Acts to Speed Progress on Water and Sanitation Goals
Adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 6 has been lagging as 2030 deadline draws nearer
The United Nations developed its 17 interconnected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to take aim at poverty, inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation for a better, more sustainable future.
The U.N. has stressed that in the interest of global peace and justice, it’s important to meet them all by 2030. But it acknowledges that progress toward meeting SDG 6, which pertains to water and sanitation, is off-track. A lag in meeting 1 of 17 SDGs may not immediately seem too concerning, but in fact SDG 6 is vital to almost every other SDG; therefore, on July 9, the U.N. released its Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6.
Stakes Are High
U.N. General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad Bande laid out what is at stake:
Water security is crucial for maintaining peace between households, communities and in fact even nations. Almost 60 percent of freshwater flows through over 250 water basins, distributed between 148 countries. Given the fragmented distribution, the only way we can manage the global water resources efficiently is through multilateral cooperation. […] Currently, the low and middle income countries lose over 800,000 people every year due to poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities.
Although SDG 6 is indispensable to climate change resilience, peace, security, human rights, and economic development, global water supplies are trapped between increasing demand and use on one side and water source degradation from climate change and pollution on the other. More than 2 billion people still have no access to safe drinking water, and 4.2 billion have no access to safe sanitation.
With the launch of the Global Acceleration Framework, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres touched on the timeliness of SDG 6:
[W]ater and sanitation are also key to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.