Leave No One Behind: Pathways to Engage with the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Platform

According to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform:

“In 2015, 4.9 billion people globally used an improved sanitation facility; 2.4 billion did not. Among those lacking adequate sanitation were 946 million people without any facilities at all, who continued to practice open defecation. In 2015, 6.6 billion people, or 91 per cent of the global population, used an improved drinking water source, versus 82 per cent in 2000. While coverage was around 90 percent or more in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, widespread inequalities persist within and among countries. Moreover, not all improved sources are safe. For instance, in 2012 it was estimated that at least 1.8 billion people were exposed to drinking water sources contaminated with fecal matter.”

Countries’ progress on achieving Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation will be evaluated at the United Nation’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2018. Heads of state, government representatives, business leaders, civil society organizations, and representatives from academia participate in the Forum’s various sessions to bring visibility, encourage partnerships, and disseminate knowledge on initiatives geared towards the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals at the international, national, and local levels. Thus, in anticipation of next year’s review, it was worthwhile to attend and gain insight on the dimensions of Goal 6 through a panel discussion about “Understanding WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene): Key Initiatives and Opportunities.” The event was hosted by Net Impact’s New York City Professional Chapter on May 31, 2017. A dynamic discussion was provided by three panelists: Brooke Yamakoshi, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist of UNICEFKarina L. Weinstein, Program Director of FXB USAand Cynthia Koenig, Founder of Wello Water.

  •  Improving data collection on hand washing and other hygiene actions
  •  Outlining innovations in accountability mechanisms (i.e. targeting and monitoring approaches)
  •  Devising new partnerships and encouraging behavior changes in hygiene and sanitation through community-led processes (e.g. Community Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Groups) and government-led processes
  • Ensuring people’s access to and the affordability of water purification and sanitation appliances through the development of infrastructure and collaborating with suppliers
  •  Utilizing opportunities to pool resources with different stakeholders to develop and contribute to novel research that focuses on the relationships between WASH and Gender, Nutrition, or Education
  •  Understanding that by considering and incorporating aspects of the Targets and Indicators of SDG 6 into corporate sustainability strategies, policies, and programs; businesses and organizations are also ensuring that peoples’ dignity, their right to water, and their abilities to attain adequate nutrition and preserve their health is being safeguarded

In essence, the panel discussion served as a great resource for myself, and other attendees, to become keen on raising awareness about Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene issues and to frame these topics through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 6. I had the opportunity to research Peru’s legal frameworksurrounding water scarcity and water quality issues, as it relates to the mining sector and company-community conflict. For example, in Peru, various company-community conflicts stem from water pollution. Water is also considered public property in Peru. So, when extractive companies request and have been approved for water permits, it is not considered a property right. Consequently, in their CSR programs, to prevent, mitigate, or resolve conflict surrounding water in extractive operations, a mining company operating in Peru may consider providing forums for dialogue (e.g. through a dialogue table) with community members and representatives, allowing them to voice their concerns about the projects and how to avoid environmental pollution. Similarly, the panel discussion also stressed the importance of building relationships with the community through dialogues and education events in order to develop consensus about how to meet residents’ Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene needs.

Ultimately, for such a broad agenda of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, it is crucial that diverse stakeholders in the design, business, political, and scientific arenas collaborate on developing and investing in social and economic spaces that stimulate innovative ways to tackle Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene issues and improve the quality of life for global citizens.

To further explore how your organization or business can engage with Sustainable Development Goal 6, some valuable resources include:

Don’t miss out on your organization’s opportunity to accelerate the Global Goals! We would love to hear how your organization is addressing the SDGs. Reach out to Kristina Hamil on Linkedin or write to us at info@development3.com and let’s get your take!


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