Coordinating the UN's work on water and sanitation

Integrated monitoring: 75 countries share experiences for way forward

On 22-24 November 2017 UN-Water, together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands, organized a global workshop for integrated monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation. The workshop, taking place in The Hague, was attended by some 120 participants from about 75 countries, some 30 representatives from United Nations organizations, and some 30 representatives from regional and international organizations working with water and sanitation.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform, for countries and United Nations entities, for sharing experiences and reviewing results from 2016-2017 baseline data collection efforts, and for learning and preparing for future monitoring. Prior to the workshop, all countries had received requests for data on the different global indicators, and many countries had already submitted data on multiple indicators. 30 countries had been actively participating in the 2017 integrated baseline process, focusing on institutional capacity building across the different indicators.

The first day was opened with a video message from Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and UN-Water Chair, as well as a welcome address by Peter Heij, Director-General for Spatial Development and Water Affairs, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherlands. The first session of the day offered and introduction to SDG 6 monitoring, including an update on the indicator process from the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators as well as a panel discussion on how to implement SDG 6 monitoring at the country level. Thereafter followed a presentation of the objectives and efforts made in the 2016-2017 integrated baseline process by the SDG 6 custodian agencies.

In the afternoon, Uganda, the Netherlands and Peru presented how they went about to set up SDG 6 monitoring in their countries, highlighting the importance of political support, stakeholder involvement and institutional capacity. Following the country presentations, participants discussed these matters in smaller groups, facilitating the exchange of experience across countries.

The day ended with a cocktail and display of country posters, prepared by the integrated baseline countries. The posters, outlining the countries’ lessons learned from the baseline process as well as their preliminary data on the global indicators, was greatly appreciated by the participants, as it provided examples of possible ways of implementing SDG 6 monitoring at the country level and stimulated an exchange of both institutional and technical experiences.

Day 2 started with presentations from China, Jamaica and South Africa on how water and sanitation data can be used to improve implementation, which was further discussed by participants in smaller groups as well as in plenary. A common theme in the discussion was how to strengthen the linkages between water and sanitation experts in line ministries and the national statistical offices, as well as the need to communicate the information to different audiences, for policy and decision-making but also to raise awareness.

Next followed a presentation by the custodian agencies on preliminary results from the SDG 6 baseline data collection, including preliminary global estimates of the indicators. To further discuss results and lessons learned for specific indicators, participants were invited to visit indicator specific “market stall”. A key theme emerging from the technical discussions was the need to work with national statistical offices and other data providers to update and expand existing data collection instruments to ensure that they are fit for the purpose of SDG monitoring between now and 2030.

Day three of the workshop started with a visionary discussion of how water and sanitation monitoring will look in 2030, followed by discussions in smaller groups and plenary on how to strengthen capacity for integrated monitoring, looking at the need and modalities for capacity development, partnerships and resources mobilization.

In the afternoon, different regional monitoring initiatives were presented, such as the MDG+ Initiative of the Arab Region, Africa Water Sector and Sanitation Monitoring and Reporting as well as the European Water Framework Directive. The presentations sparked a discussion on the need for harmonization and alignment between local, national, regional and global levels, so to reduce the reporting burden on countries. It was noted that the need for harmonization could be divided into three separate aspects, namely harmonization of focal points, harmonization of methodologies/metadata, and harmonization of data collection processes. 

Day three ended with an update of UN-Water’s work on the SDG 6 data portal and the SDG 6 Synthesis Report, emphasizing the need to address linkages both within SDG 6 as well as across the whole 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The workshop was closed by William Reidhead on behalf of UN-Water and Monique Berendsen on behalf of the Netherlands.

On day 4, enduring participants were invited on a field trip, starting with a tour on innovative monitoring solutions at Floodproof Holland. Warmed up with tea and Dutch biscuits, participants learned more about low cost weather stations as well as mobile-phone based testing of water quality. Next stops were Deltares and IHE, where participants learned more about e.g. the use of earth observations and modelling for monitoring as well as large-scale hydro testing facilities. The field trip, as well as the workshop, ended with a boat tour including lunch on the canals of the city of Delft.

 

Access background documents and recordings of the sessions here.