Tuesday, July 10, 2018

UN Week Part 3. An Introduction to Sustainable Development Goal 6. Ensure Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
While all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are important, in my mind, SDG 6--Ensure Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All--is one of the most important of them all (note: to review all the goals, please see the first post in this series here). Water is an overarching theme for so many issues in the overall sustainable development agenda that it is worth taking a look at this particular goal to better understand some of the key issues associated with it.

First of all, SDG 6 is a complex goal. It is made of many subgoals that are worth examining. It consists of several targets and associated indicators. For those of you unfamiliar with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals framework, each of the goals has targets and measurable (hopefully!) indicators that can be used to assess progress toward the targets.

Here are the targets and goals for SDG6:

6.1. Target: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
6.1. Indicator:  Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services

6.2. Target:  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
6.2. Indicator:  Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water

6.3. Target:  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 
6.3.1. Indicator:  Proportion of wastewater safely treated
6.3.2. Indicator:  Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality

6.4. Target:  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 
6.4.1. Indicator:  Change in water-use efficiency over time
6.4.2. Indicator:  Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

6.5. Target:  By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
6.5.1. Indicator:  Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100)
6.5.2. Indicator:  Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation

6.6. Target:  By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 
6.6. Indicator:  Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time

6.A. Target:  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 
6.A. Indicator:  Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan

6.B. Target:  Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
6.B. Indicator:  Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

As you can see from the above indicators, SDG6 is huge. It includes access to clean and healthy drinking water as well as wastewater management. It includes water resource management and international cooperation and capacity building.

As I have pointed out several times in this space over the years, many parts of the world are running out of fresh water and the impacts on society and the environment are being felt. Work on this indicator is crucial to the overall sustainability of our planet.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at what cave and karst scientists, managers, and educators can do to advance SDG6.

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