Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and More


Welcome back to the sustainable development goals breakdown, this time we are going to talk about sustainable development goal 6. Not sure what sustainable development goal 6 is about? Well, this is the perfect article for you! Find out all the detail about this goal and maybe even help out!

What is Sustainable Development Goal 6

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6 or Global Goal 6) is about “clean water and sanitation for all.” It is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the official wording is: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”[UNDP 2015]
The UN has identified that access to clean water and sanitation facilities is a basic human right [UNESCO 2019]. which is why it is alarming Over 2 billion people in the world lack access to healthy water [WHO & UNICEF 2019].

Why is Sustainable Development Goal 6 Important?

Clean water is a big part of human life - sdg 6
Globally, Billions of people still lack access to safely managed water and sanitation services and basic hand washing facilities at home, which are critical to preventing spreading the spread of COVID-19. Immediate action to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All is critical to preventing infection and containing its spread.
Ending open defecation is one of the aims of SDG 6, which will require provision of toilets and sanitation for 2.6 billion people as well as behavior change of the population.[WHO & UNICEF 2017] about one-third of countries will need to accelerate progress to end open defecation, To be able to meet SDG targets for sanitation by 2030, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.[UNICEF 2019] Cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector is essential for the achievement of this goal [Kellogg and Diane 2017].
Safe drinking water and hygienic toilets are also important in protecting people from disease. An healthy society will be more productive economically. Attending school and work without disruption supports education and employment. Therefore, toilets at school and at the work place is also an aim of SDG 6 (“achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all”).
Equitable sanitation and hygiene solutions also address the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly or people with disabilities.

Targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6

Similar to other sustainable development goals, sustainable development goal 6 is broken down into small goals and all of them aim to be completed by the year 2030.
The targets for Sustainable Development Goals 6 are 8 in number, and they include;

  1. Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  2. 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
  3. 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 by 2030
  4. 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
  5. Implement integrated water resources management at all levels by 2030, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  6. Protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes
  7. 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
  8. Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Progress and challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6

One of the great challenges of our times is how to increase food production using less water.
Water scarcity, poor water quality, and inadequate sanitation affect food security, nutrition, and educational and economic opportunities for poor families across the world.
Crops and livestock already account for 70 percent of all water withdrawals and up to 95 percent in some developing countries. Water withdrawal for irrigation and livestock will increase as global population growth and economic development will increase food demand up. Dietary trends point to a global increase in the consumption of food that requires more water to be produced.
In 2017, only 71 percent of the global population used safely managed drinking water and just 45 percent used safely managed sanitation services, leaving 2.2 billion persons without safely managed drinking water, including 785 million without even basic drinking water and 4.2 billion without safely managed sanitation. Of those, 673 million persons still practiced open defecation. [UN 2020]
In 2017, some 3 billion people lacked soap and water at home. In 2016, 47 percent of schools worldwide lacked handwashing facilities with available soap and water, and 40 percent of health-care facilities were not equipped to practice hand hygiene at points of care.
In 2016, one in four health-care facilities globally lacked basic water services, and one in five had no sanitation services.
By 2017, eighty countries provided access to clean water for more than 99% of their population.[UNICEF 2014] From 2000 to 2017, the global population that lacked access to clean water decreased from nearly 20% to roughly 10%.[WHO and UNICEF 2019]
Preliminary estimates from 79 mostly high- and higher-middle income countries in 2019 suggest that, in about one quarter of the countries, less than half of all household wastewater flows were treated safely.
In 2017, Central and Southern Asia and Northern Africa registered very high water stress – defined as a situation in which the water resources in a region or country are insufficient for its needs- of more than 70 percent, followed by Western Asia and Eastern Asia, with high water stress of 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively. (UN 2020)
Official development assistance(ODA) disbursements to the water sector increased to $9 billion, or 6 percent, in 2018, following a decrease in such disbursements in 2017. However, ODA commitments fell by 9 percent in 2018. Because countries have signaled a funding gap of 61 percent between what is needed to achieve national drinking water and sanitation targets and available funding, increasing donor commitments to the water sector will remain crucial to make progress towards Goal 6. (UN 2020)

How can we help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6?

Sdg 6: to have clean water for all
countries should ensure water use in agriculture is made more efficient, productive, and environmentally friendly. This involves producing more food while using less water, building the resilience of farming communities to cope with floods and droughts and applying clean water technologies.
People should also adopt better hygiene practices and sanitation. Such as reducing waste thrown in water, open defecation, and waste water should be properly treated.
More support should be shown to private organizations working towards achieving clean water and sanitation for all.

Interested in knowing more about sustainable development goals? Here is an overview of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation”. UNDP. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
Kellogg, Diane M. (2017). “The Global Sanitation Crisis: A Role for Business”. Beyond the bottom line: integrating sustainability into business and management practice. Gudić, Milenko,, Tan, Tay Keong,, Flynn, Patricia M. Saltaire, UK: Greenleaf Publishing. ISBN 9781783533275. OCLC 982187046
“Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era” (PDF). UNICEF. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era” (PDF). UNICEF. Retrieved 2 April 2018
Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Report of the Secretary-General,
World Health Organization. UNICEF. Progress on sanitation
“World Water Development Report 2019 – Leaving No One Behind”. UNESCO. 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
WHO/UNICEF Joint Water Supply and Sanitation Monitoring Programme. World Health Organization, issuing body. UNICEF, issuing body. (2019). Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities. p. 26. ISBN 9789241507240. OCLC 890621984Close
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!