Wednesday, July 11, 2018

UN Week Part 4. What Cave and Karst Scientists, Managers, and Educators Can Contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 6 Water and Sanitation

A mural near the Security Council at the United Nations. Photo
by Bob Brinkmann.
As noted in yesterday's post, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is one of the most significant goals of the entire list of all 17 SDGs. Water is such a universal issue that many this week at the UN's High Level Political Forum on the SDGs are suggesting that it needs greater prominence, or at least connectivity, within the discussions taking place at the United Nations. Since I am representing the International Union of Speleology this week at the forum, I thought it would be useful to review what cave and karst scientists, educators, and policy makers around the world can do to support and advance SDG 6. Of course SDG6 is not the only place where the cave and karst community can make a difference, so tomorrow I will review how we can support other Sustainable Development Goals. Today, however, I focus my attention on SDG6 targets and indicators. I highlight the cave and karst community responses (CKCR) within the context of each target and indicator below.

The international cave and karst community is extremely talented and connected. By marshaling our time and talent, we can make a significant contribution to achieving the targets outlined in 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
While most of us in the cave and karst community are not involved in providing access to safe and affordable drinking water, it is important for us to consider how we can be advocates for this goal.
6.1.1. CKCR:  Support organizations locally and internationally that are working to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
6.1.2. CKCR:  Evaluate the world karst map and our own communities to assess key karst regions where there are challenges with access to safe and affordable drinking water. Support agencies in these areas that are seeking to improve access to water.


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
Many people live on karst landscapes that have poor sanitation and hygiene. This is particularly an issue because so many karst areas are in rural communities without access to urban infrastructure. The cave and karst community responses parallel those for Target 6.1.
6.1.2. CKCR. Support organizations locally and internationally that are working to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
6.2.2. CKCR.  Evaluate the world karst map and our own communities to assess where there is not access to equitable sanitation and hygiene for all. Find ways to either improve sanitation or support agencies working in these areas.

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
The cave and karst community is particularly suited to address Indicator 6.3.2. Many of us regularly sample surface and groundwater through our efforts.
6.3.1. CKCR. Continue and enhance surface and groundwater monitoring in karst areas and share the monitoring data widely with the public and government agencies so that it can be evaluated over time.
6.3.2. CKCR. Advocate for reduction of point and non point pollution in karst watersheds.

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
Water management in karst areas is always problematic. Many traditionally trained hydrologists do not fully understanding the complex nature of karst systems. Thus, the cave and karst community has much to add to this target.
6.4.1. CKCR. Advocate for sound planning of water resources in karst areas to ensure sustainable groundwater withdrawal and to protect surface ecosystems.
6.4.2. CKCR. Advocate for water conservation and water efficiency projects in cave and karst regions.

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
Because the surface topography does not match the actual groundwater basin in karst areas, it is important to engage water managers and government officials on the nature of karst watersheds. 
6.5.1. CKCR. Work to map karst watersheds and communicate the implications of transboundary issues to government officials and water managers to facilitate cooperations among regions on sound surface and groundwater management.

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
The cave and karst community has been very active in protecting and restoring water related ecosystems in karst areas. 
6.6.1. CKCR. Identify key areas for restoration and protection in cave and karst areas by identifying a list of international, national, and local priorities for attention. 
6.6.2. CKCR. Work with other stakeholders to restore and protect top areas identified in 6.6.1.

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
This target is, in part, about education. The cave and karst community can take a bigger step forward to help to educate a variety of stakeholders about the significance of cave and karst landscapes to our water systems.
6.A.1. CKCR. Begin a new international education initiative aimed at creating greater understanding of cave and karst landscapes aimed not only at the public, but at key decision makers.
6.A.2. CKCR. Advocate for the inclusion of karst systems within youth curriculum.
6.A.3. CKCR. Accelerate informal education efforts through clubs, Websites, and public lectures.

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
The cave and karst community has excellent ties to local communities and can be a strong partner in improving community participation in improving water and sanitation management.
6.B.1. CKCR. Provide opportunities for local communities to participate in cave and karst events, particularly those aimed at conservation or improving water and sanitation management.
6.B.2. CKCR. Create contacts with local, state, and national government officials to engage them with community initiatives.

This list of CKCR's is certainly a draft and it could be edited and/or expanded. However, I believe that it is important that the cave and karst community consider how to advance the SDG's in measurable ways. We have much to contribute to the long term sustainability of the planet.

Tomorrow, I will look to see how the cave and karst community can support the other sustainable development goals.



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