Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
The UN explains: “Clean water is a basic human need, and one that should be easily accessible to all. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to poor infrastructure, investment and planning, every year millions of people — most of them children — die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.”
The UN has defined 8 Targets and 11 Indicators for SDG 6. Targets specify the goals and Indicators represent the metrics by which the world aims to track whether these Targets are achieved.
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
6.5: By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
6.6: By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
6.a: By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water-and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
6.b: Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
One in three people live in a country with moderate to high water stress, and by 2030 nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity, with demand outstripping supply by 40%.
Lost working days as a result of poor sanitation cost the global economy $4 billion annually. Water availability and quality is threatened by pollution, the impacts of climate change, population growth and increasing consumption.
Water is on the risk agenda for many businesses. 20% of water consumption is used by industry and 70% by agriculture – only 10% of water consumption is used for domestic purposes.
What can business do? Measure your water-footprint and take water stewardship seriously eg. reduce, recycle and safely reuse water, repair leakages and implement efficiency improvement initiatives, and promote hygienic behaviours such as regular handwashing with employees and local communities. Check the impact of your water use on the local community, directly and in your supply chain.