Sustainable Development Goal 6
Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6 or SDG 6), one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN in 2015. It calls for clean water and sanitation for all people. The official wording is: "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all." The goal has eight targets to be achieved by at least 2030. Progress toward the targets will be measured by using eleven "indicators."
SDG6 is closely linked with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, improving sanitation also helps make cities more sustainable (Goal 11). Sanitation improvements can lead to more jobs (Goal 8) which would also lead to economic growth (Goal 8). SDG6 progress improves health (Goal 3) and social justice (Goal 16).
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. Each of the targets also has one or two indicators which will be used to measure progress. In total there are 11 indicators for SDG6.
- By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
- 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 and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
- 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 substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
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, both of which are the foundation of alleviating poverty. 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.
Water sources are better preserved if open defecation is ended and sustainable sanitation systems are implemented. Preserving natural sources of water is very important so as to achieve universal access to safe and affordable drinking water. Therefore, one target aims to reduce water pollution by eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and untreated wastewater. The potential for recycling and safe reuse of wastewater is also mentioned.
The main indicator for the sanitation target is the "Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water". The current statistic in the 2017 baseline estimate by the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) is that 4.5 billion people currently do not have safely managed sanitation. The JMP is a joint program of UNICEF and WHO and compiles data to monitor SDG6 progress.
The definition of safely managed sanitation service is: "Use of improved facilities that are not shared with other households and where excreta are safely disposed of in situ or transported and treated offsite.":6 Improved sanitation facilities are those designed to hygienically separate excreta from human contact.:6
Links with other SDGs
The SDGs are all interlinked. WASH experts have stated that without progress on Goal 6, the other goals and targets cannot be achieved. In other words, accomplishing the other SDGs will require assuring clean water and sanitation for all as stated in SDG6.
Ensuring adequate sanitation and wastewater management along the entire value chain in cities contributes to Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), Goal 1 (no poverty) and Goal 8 (decent work and economic growth).
The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) works on sanitation issues as a global network of 9000 individuals and 300 partner organizations. Global organizations such as Oxfam, UNICEF, WaterAid and many small NGOs as well as universities, research centres, private enterprises, government-owned entities etc. are all part of SuSanA and are dedicated to achieving SDG6.
Ending open defecation will require provision of toilets and sanitation for 2.6 billion people as well as behavior change of the population. This will require cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector.
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