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Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6 or Global Goal 6) is about "clean water and sanitation for all." It is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the official wording is: "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."[1] The goal has eight targets to be achieved by at least 2030. Progress toward the targets will be measured by using eleven indicators.[2]

The six "outcome-oriented targets" include: Safe and affordable drinking water; end open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene, improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse, increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies, implement IWRM, protect and restore water-related ecosystems. The two "means of achieving" targets are to expand water and sanitation support to developing countries, and to support local engagement in water and sanitation management.[3]

In 2017, 2.2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation.[4] Three billion people worldwide lack basic hand-washing facilities at home.[4] Two in five healthcare facilities world-wide have no soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub (2016).[4] The COVID-19 pandemic has made this goal increasingly important.[5] However this pandemic could affect the ability of water utilities to meet this goal by increasing losses on revenues that would otherwise be used to make investments.[6]

SDG 6 is closely linked with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, progress in SDG 6 will improve health (SDG 3) and improve school attendance, both of which contribute to alleviating poverty. In April 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Today, Sustainable Development Goal 6 is badly off track" and it “is hindering progress on the 2030 Agenda, the realization of human rights and the achievement of peace and security around the world".[7]

Background

drinking water; end open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene, improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse, increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies, implement IWRM, protect and restore water-related ecosystems. The two "means of achieving" targets are to expand water and sanitation support to developing countries, and to support local engagement in water and sanitation management.[3]

In 2017, 2.2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation.[4] Three billion people worldwide lack basic hand-washing facilities at home.[4] Two in five healthcare facilities world-wide have no soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub (2016).[4] The COVID-19 pandemic has made this goal increasingly important.[5] However this pandemic could affect the ability of water utilities to meet this goal by increasing losses on revenues that would otherwise be used to make investments.[6]

SDG 6 is closely linked with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, progress in SDG 6 will improve health (SDG 3) and improve school attendance, both of which contribute to alleviating poverty. In April 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Today, Sustainable Development Goal 6 is badly off track" and it “is hindering progress on the 2030 Agenda, the realization of human rights and the achievement of peace and security around the world".[7]

The UN has determined that access to clean water and sanitation facilities is a basic human right.[8] Over 2 billion people in the world lack access to water that is free of health risks.[9] By 2017, eighty countries provided access to clean water for more than 99% of their population.[10] From 2000 to 2017, the global population that lacked access to clean water decreased from nearly 20% to roughly 10%.[9]

Ending open defecation will require provision of toilets and sanitation for 2.6 billion people as well as behavior change of the population.[11] To meet SDG targets for sanitation by 2030, nearly one-third of countries will need to accelerate progress to end open defecation, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.[12] This will require cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector.[13]

Safe drinking water and hygienic toilets protect people from disease and enable societies to be more productive economically. Attending school and work without disruption supports education and employment. Therefore, toilets at school and at the work place are included in the second target ("achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all"). Equitable sanitation and hygiene solutions address the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly or people with disabilities.

A review of SDG progress by the United Nations in 2020 found that "increasing donor commitments to the water sector will remain crucial to make progress towards Goal 6".[5] This is why the UN has put in place a unifying initiative that improves support to countries known as SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.[14]

Targets, indicators and progress

World map for Indicator 6.1.1 in 2015: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services [15]
open defecation will require provision of toilets and sanitation for 2.6 billion people as well as behavior change of the population.[11] To meet SDG targets for sanitation by 2030, nearly one-third of countries will need to accelerate progress to end open defecation, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.[12] This will require cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector.[13]

Safe drinking water and hygienic toilets protect people from disease and enable societies to be more productive economically. Attending school and work without disruption supports education and employment. Therefore, toilets at school and at the work place are included in the second target ("achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all"). Equitable sanitation and hygiene solutions address the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly or people with disabilities.

A review of SDG progress by the United Nations in 2020 found that "increasing donor commitments to the water sector will remain crucial to make progress towards Goal 6".[5] This is why the UN has put in place a unifying initiative that improves support to countries known as SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.[14]

SDG 6 has eight targets. Six of them are to be achieved by the year 2030, one by the year 2020, and one has no target year.[16] Each of the targets also has one or two indicators which will be used to measure progress. In total there are 11 indicators to monitor progress for SDG6.[17] The main data sources for the SDG 6 targets and indicators come from the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 coordinated by UN-Water.[18] Each government must decide how to incorporate them into national planning processes, policies and strategies based on national realities, capacities, levels of development and priorities.[18]

The six "outcome-oriented targets" include: Safe and affordable drinking water; end open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene, improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse, increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies, implement IWRM, protect and restore water-related ecosystems. The two "means of achieving" targets are to expand water and sanitation support to developing countries, and to support local engagement in water and sanitation management.[3]

The first three targets relate to drinking water supply, sanitation services and wastewater treatment and reuse.[16]

An SDG 6 Baseline Report in 2018 found that less than 50 per cent of countries have comparable baseline estimates for most SDG 6 global indicators.[18]:31 One reason is that many SDG 6 global indicators are new, and most have only limited time series, making it difficult to determine rates of progress.[18]:31

Target 6.1: Safe and affordable drinking water

The full title of Target 6.1 is: "By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all".[2]

This target has one indicator: Indicator 6.1.1 is the "Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services".[15]

The definition of "safely managed drinking water service" is: "Drinking water from an improved water source that is located on premises, available when needed and free from fecal and priority chemical contamination."[11]:8 Between 2000 and 2015, the percentage of global population using safely managed drinking water serviced has increased from 61 to 71 per cent. But this remained unchanged in 2017. In total, 785 million people around the world still lacked basic drinking water service.[19]

In 2017, only 71 per cent of the global population used safely managed drinking water. This means that 2.2 billion persons were still without safely managed drinking water in 2017.[5]

Target 6.2: End open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene

Target 6.a is: "By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, It has one indicator: Indicator 6.6.1 is the "Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time".[20]

It is expected that the adverse effects of climate change can decrease the extent of freshwater bodies, thereby worsening ecosystems and livelihoods.[5]

Target 6.a is: "By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies."[2]

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.a.1 is the "Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan".[20]

In 2019, a document by the UN found that: "Following several years of steady increases and after reaching $9 billion in 2016, offi

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.a.1 is the "Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan".[20]

In 2019, a document by the UN found that: "Following several years of steady increases and after reaching $9 billion in 2016, official development assistance (ODA) disbursements to the water sector declined by 2 per cent from 2016 to 2017. However, ODA commitments to the water sector jumped by 36 per cent between 2016 and 2017, indicating a renewed focus by donors on the sector."[23]

One year later in April 2020 it was stated that "ODA disbursements to the water sector increased to $9 billion, or 6 per cent, in 2018, following a decrease in such disbursements in 2017".[5]

Target 6.b is: "Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management."[2]

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.b.1 is the "Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management".[20]

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.b.1 is the "Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management".[20]

Custodian agencies are in charge of reporting on the following indicators:[11][18]

  • Indicator 6.1.1 and 6.2.1: Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP). The JMP is a joint program of UNICEF and [24]

    The world is being asked to wash hands multiple times in a day, wash and sanitize every object brought from outside, sanitize all public transport at a certain interval in a day.[25] The water consumption, as well as the wastewater generation all across the globe, have now increased manifold. The UN-Habitat is working with partners to facilitate access to running water and  handwashing in informal settlements.[24] With the increased exploitation of water resources in 2020 its reported that by 2030 700 million people might be displaced by water scarcity.[26]

    Monitoring

    High-level progress reports for all the SDGs are published in the form of reports by the United Nations Secretary General. The most recent one is from April 2020.[5] The report before that was from May 2019.[23]

    Additionally, updates and progress can also be found on the SDG website that is managed by the United Nations.[27]

    Links with other SDGs

    [25] The water consumption, as well as the wastewater generation all across the globe, have now increased manifold. The UN-Habitat is working with partners to facilitate access to running water and  handwashing in informal settlements.[24] With the increased exploitation of water resources in 2020 its reported that by 2030 700 million people might be displaced by water scarcity.[26]

    High-level progress reports for all the SDGs are published in the form of reports by the United Nations Secretary General. The most recent one is from April 2020.[5] The report before that was from May 2019.[23]

    Additionally, updates and progress can also be found on the SDG website that is managed by the United Nations.[27]

    Links with other SDGs<

    Additionally, updates and progress can also be found on the SDG website that is managed by the United Nations.[27]

    The SDGs are highly interdependent. Therefore, the provision of clean water and sanitation for all is a precursor to achieving many of the other SDGs.[28] WASH experts have stated that without progress on Goal 6, the other goals and targets cannot be achieved.[29][30]

    For example, sanitation improvements can lead to more jobs (SDG 8) which would also lead to economic growth.[31] SDG 6 progress improves health (SDG 3) and social justice (SDG 16).[32] Recovering the resources embedded in excreta and wastewater (like nutrients, water and energy) contributes to achieving SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and SDG 8) which would also lead to economic growth.[31] SDG 6 progress improves health (SDG 3) and social justice (SDG 16).[32] Recovering the resources embedded in excreta and wastewater (like nutrients, water and energy) contributes to achieving SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and SDG 2 (end hunger). Ensuring adequate sanitation and wastewater management along the entire value chain in cities contributes to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 1 (no poverty).[31]

    Sanitation systems with a resource recovery and reuse focus are getting increased attention.[33] They can contribute to achieving at least fourteen of the SDGs, especially in an urban context.[31]

    The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) has made it its mission to help achieve Targets 6.2 and 6.3.[34][35] Global organizations such as Oxfam, UNICEF, WaterAid and many small NGOs as well as universities, research centers, private enterprises, government-owned entities etc. are all part of SuSanA and are dedicated to achieving SDG 6.[36]

    References