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UN-Water's Recommendations for a Global Goal on Water

UN-Water has undertaken an expert consultation process where UN-Water’s 31 Members from the United Nations system and 36 international Partners have come together to analyze what role water could have in the Post-2015 Development Agenda based on their experience and expertise.


The outcome of the consultation is a consolidated technical advice from the UN-System to Member States to prioritize water in the post-2015 development agenda. A broad goal would capture the fundamental importance of water for both humans and the environment.


The proposed goal builds on and extends existing commitments such as the Millennium Development Goals and the priorities agreed at Rio+20. The goal provides an overall framework that is universally applicable, but that responds to particular national circumstances and addresses account costs, benefits and means of implementation. The framework, with a clear set of targets and indicators, can be tailored to the context and priorities of each country. 


Technical Advice

More about the targets and indicators

Executive Summary

  More about the consultation process

Résumé (français)

News and updates

Resumen Ejecutivo (español)




What Would a Global Water Goal Lead to?


The suggested water goal and targets recognise the development aims of societies whilst ensuring achievements are sustainable over the long term. The goals would promote the following development outcomes, among others:

The Targets

The global goal for water is supported by a coherent, cohesive and mutually reinforcing set of targets that will help countries reach the goal by 2030. To facilitate understanding of the multiple functions water plays in society, the framework is structured into five measurable and interconnected targets. The short versions of these targets are below. Under each link, you will find descriptions of each of the targets and more resource material.


Target A: Achieve universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene





Target B: Improve by (x%) the sustainable use and development of water resources in all countries




Target C: All countries strengthen equitable, participatory and accountable water governance




Target D: Reduce wastewater pollution and improve water quality by reducing untreated domestic and industrial wastewater by (x%); increasing wastewater reused safely by (y%); and reducing nutrient pollution by (z%) to maximize water resource availability and improve water quality.



Target E: Reduce mortality by (x%) and economic loss by (y%) from natural and human-induced water- related disasters.


Background: Water in the post-2015 development agenda

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed by world leaders in 2000 have served as a shared framework for global action and cooperation on international development. As the 2015 target date for achieving the MDGs approaches, the UN is working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and shape a new development framework beyond 2015 that builds on the MDGs, but also addresses weaknesses, including by reflecting previously omitted issues.

One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch an inclusive process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that would address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environment - and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

The process to define the post-2015 development agenda is led by Member States with broad participation from external stakeholders including civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, and scientists. The United Nations play a facilitating role in this global conversation and has the responsibility of supporting Member States by providing evidence-based inputs, analytical thinking and field experience. The Secretary-General will continue to provide overall leadership to the process with the support of the Deputy-Secretary General and the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning.

Overview of the workstreams

Last update:06 Feb 2014