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Water in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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In September 2015, heads of state from all around the world gathered in New York to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity”, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, aiming to nothing less than “transforming our world”. Building on the UN Millennium Declaration and its eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (2000-2015), the 2030 Agenda expands the MDG focus on poverty reduction to now cover all aspects of sustainable development in all countries of the world, calling for peace and partnership, and the need to leave no one behind.

 

The SDGs covers a wide range of drivers across the three pillars of sustainable development, and include a dedicated goal on water and sanitation (SDG 6) that sets out to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. SDG 6 expands the MDG focus on drinking water and basic sanitation to now cover the entire water cycle, including the management of water, wastewater and ecosystem resources. With water at the very core of sustainable development, SDG 6 does not only have strong linkages to all of the other SDGs, but also the ability to underpin them: realising SDG 6 would in fact go a long way towards achieving much of the 2030 Agenda.

 

SDG 6 contains six targets on outcomes across the entire water cycle, and two targets on the means of implementing the outcome targets: 

  • Targets 6.1 and 6.2 build on the MDG targets on drinking water and basic sanitation, providing continuity while expanding their scope and refining definitions.
  • Targets 6.3 to 6.6 address the broader water context that was not explicitly included in the MDG framework, but whose importance was acknowledged at the Rio+20 Conference, such as water quality and wastewater management, water scarcity and use efficiency, integrated water resources management, and the protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems.
  • Targets 6.a and 6.b acknowledge the importance of an enabling environment, addressing the means of implementation and aiming for international cooperation, capacity-building and the participation of local communities in water and sanitation management.  

 

With water at the very core of sustainable development, SDG 6 does not only have strong linkages to all of the other SDGs, it also underpins them; meeting SDG 6 would go a long way towards achieving much of the 2030 Agenda.

 

Learn more about water’s role in the 2030 Agenda and UN-Water’s involvement in the process: a brief description of the process towards the SDGs, an introduction to SDG 6, suggestion of indicators for global monitoring of SDG 6, and an exploration of the means of implementing SDG 6.

Last update:12 Jun 2015