The world is not on track to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water and sanitation. This was the central message emerging from the UN-Water SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation and it was the main message delivered to the international community at the High-level Political Forum in July. This was the first time countries reviewed the status of SDG 6 implementation and, while the fact the world is not on track is sobering, there are many solutions and successful approaches upon which to build. There is also increasing recognition that water and sanitation underpin all SDGs. Without water and sanitation, gender equality will remain elusive, poverty will not be eliminated, and life on land will be compromised. The Synthesis Report built on data gathered by the SDG 6 custodian agencies – these agencies are the foundation of the UN- Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6. In 2018, the Integrated Monitoring Initiative ended its first phase which focused on methodological refinement and global reporting.
Given the status of SDG 6 progress, the launch of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, 2018-2028 on World Water Day was well-timed. A central aim of the Decade is to build the political will and momentum needed to make real progress on all the SDG 6 targets. With World Water Day and World Toilet Day, the Water Action Decade adds to a powerful set of advocacy tools that build awareness and inspire action.
An in-depth external review prompted UN-Water to reflect on its main purpose: to complement and add value to existing programmes and projects by facilitating synergies and joint actions. This reflection also took up the United Nations’ wide-ranging reforms that were approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, which aim to avoid systemic duplication while achieving greater coherence with the goal of supporting countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the inter-agency coordinating mechanism for water and sanitation, UN-Water continued to leverage its Members’ and Partners’ input to deliver on its three lines of work to 1) inform policy processes and address emerging issues, 2) support monitoring and reporting on water and sanitation, and 3) build knowledge and inspire action.