Water Talk: Expert Q&As on the UN Sustainable Development Goals for Water

For the first time, international leaders meeting in New York City this weekend will consider a dedicated goal for water.

Manila Philippines slum squatter village poverty WASH water sanitation hygiene Sustainable Development Goals United Nations J. Carl Ganter Circle of Blue

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – which will be adopted in New York this weekend– set an ambitious priority of providing clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. They also include goals to improve water efficiency, safeguard water ecosystems, and reduce water pollution. Photo © J. Carl Ganter / CircleofBlue.org

By Codi Kozacek, Circle of Blue

Draft Sustainable Development Goal for Water
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 and 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% 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.

On Friday, September 25, representatives from around the world gather in New York City to adopt a new global agenda for sustainable development. The proposed Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious targets to eradicate poverty and hunger, safeguard natural resources, combat climate change, and achieve human equality by 2030. The goals replace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which sought to provide essential services to the world’s poorest communities.

For the first time, the international targets include a dedicated goal for water that encompasses access to drinking water and sanitation as well as improvements in water management and environmental protections. The goal is a victory for water advocacy groups that have long warned that failing to address water directly would undermine global economies, security, and efforts to improve the global standard of living. It is also a significant step toward elevating access to water, uncertain water supply, and increasing water consumption to top international priorities as global leaders prepare to negotiate a world agreement to reduce climate-related risks in Paris in December.

In a series of Q&As with water experts, Circle of Blue explores the significance of the Sustainable Development Goals for water, how they can be achieved, and how they will be measured.

Q&A: Bill Christiansen on the Sustainable Development Goal for Water Efficiency

Q&A: Mark Giordano on the Sustainable Development Goal for Integrated Water Resources Management

Q&A: Giulio Boccaletti on the Sustainable Development Goal for Restoring Water Ecosystems

Q&A: Elynn Walter on the Sustainable Development Goal for Drinking Water

Q&A: Sarina Prabasi on the Sustainable Development Goal for Sanitation

A news correspondent for Circle of Blue based out of Hawaii. She writes The Stream, Circle of Blue’s daily digest of international water news trends. Her interests include food security, ecology and the Great Lakes.
Contact Codi Kozacek

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