Proposed sustainability goals take water solutions to next level

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Proposed sustainability goals take water solutions to next level

Drinking water
ShutterstockTom Grundy
The Sustainable Development Goals to be considered for adoption this year strive to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The Millennium Development Goals (PDF) came to a close in 2014 and the Sustainable Development Goals will be launched in 2015. Here’s where we landed with regards to water-related MDGs:

  • The goal of halving the number of people without access to improved drinking water was achieved in 2010.
  • In 2012, 89 percent of the global population had access to an improved water source, up from 76 percent in 1990.

Clearly progress has been made but there is much more to do.

This is where SDGs come in. The “Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development” report (PDF) was released last year and will be considered for adoption this year. This time around there is a dedicated goal (Goal 6) to “ensure available and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

The draft SDGs for water are:

  • 6.1  By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • 6.2  By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women, girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • 6.3  By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse by [x] percent globally
  • 6.4  By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suff­ering from water scarcity
  • 6.5  By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • 6.6  By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • 6.a  By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • 6.b  Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

While these draft SDGs are ambitious, they are achievable by activating the “water ecosystem” of multinational companies and industry associations, the public sector, NGOs and civil society. Already we are seeing organizations such as Stockholm World Water Week and the World Business Council focus on these goals and activate their respective networks.

This year will be the start of an ambitious but much-needed journey to ensure access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for the growing global population.