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Below, we outline why monitoring and reporting is important, how data flows from national to global level, and what IMI-SDG6 is.

Why integrated data is important

Credible and timely water and sanitation data provide numerous benefits:

  • Stronger accountability: Data can communicate that work is being done and progress is happening. Data can enable greater transparency, which reduces inefficiency and corruption.
  • Attracting commitment and investments: Data can quantify problems and make it easier to communicate needs for political commitment and public and private investments.
  • Evidence-based decision-making: Data can inform policy- and decision-makers of where to focus efforts and which solutions are most effective, to ensure the greatest possible gains with existing resources.
  • Leaving no one behind: Disaggregated data can help identify specific groups or areas with unmet needs and higher levels of risk, to which interventions can be targeted.

Integrating data collection and the analysis of different indicators leads to:

  • More efficient use of monitoring resources: Cross-sectoral coordination and collaboration can create synergies in existing monitoring efforts, increasing data availability and reducing duplication/reporting burden.
  • More holistic policies and integrated management: A comprehensive data set can allow for better informed policy and investment decisions that account for synergies and trade-offs between social, economic and environmental development objectives. It can also enable an integrated management approach, which can reduce institutional fragmentation.

There are 11 indicators to track global progress towards SDG 6. Seven are classed as ‘tier 1’, which means that they have established methodologies and data are regularly produced by a critical mass of countries. The remaining four indicators are ‘tier 2’, meaning that they have established methodologies but data are not yet regularly reported by countries. The more ‘tier 1’ indicators we are dealing with, the more we are able to assess progress towards SDG 6.

Flow of data from national to global level

When United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda, countries took responsibility for collecting and sharing indicator data and metadata for the purpose of global reporting. The role of the United Nations is to support countries in their efforts. 

Country data are compiled and validated by indicator-specific custodian agencies, who submit the data, along with regional and global aggregates, to the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). 

Although the UNSD reports annually on progress towards the SDGs, the frequency of country reporting on each indicator may be different, depending on the individual indicator. For some of the indicators under SDG 6 it makes sense to report annually or every second year, whereas for others it is sufficient to report every three to four years. For more information on how the national data-gathering process works, click here.


UN-Water established the IMI-SDG6 in 2015 at the beginning of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By bringing together the United Nations organizations that are custodians of the various SDG 6 global indicators, IMI-SDG6 enables synergies across United Nations organizations as well as a harmonization of methodologies and requests for data, leading to more efficient outreach and a reduced reporting burden. At the national level, IMI-SDG6 also promotes intersectoral collaboration and consolidation of existing capacities and data across organizations.

IMI-SDG6 builds on other data initiatives, such as:

The overarching goal of IMI-SDG6 is to accelerate the achievement of SDG 6, by increasing the availability of high-quality data for evidence-based policymaking, regulations, planning, and investments at all levels. 

More specifically, IMI-SDG6 aims to:

  • Support countries to collect, analyse and report SDG 6 data.
  • Support policy-and decision-makers at all levels to use this data in a holistic manner.


The work of IMI-SDG6 is possible thanks to the generous support of the Governments of Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

IMI-SDG6 Phases of Development

To achieve the objectives, the Initiative is developing over 15 years (2015-2030) through four phases:

  • Phase 1 2015-2018: Global baseline setting.
  • Phase 2 2019-2022: Building national ownership.
  • Phase 3 2023-2026: Integrating and mainstreaming.
  • Phase 4 2027-2030: Consolidating and sustaining.