Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) by 2030 is expected to allow countries to reach an important milestone in their journey towards sustainability, as successful water and sanitation management will be a foundation for the achievement of many other water-related SDGs directly or indirectly. Indeed, ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is a challenge for many countries. Yet evidence and relevant data on SDG 6 for policy and decision-makers to make this happen is still missing, overlapping, or fragmented in several countries as the urgency for actions is set to grow in the next years. There is also a renewed call by the United Nations (UN) for critical actions in support of the timely achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under the ‘Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals.'
Against this background, strengthening and realigning the enabling environment for SDG 6 to drive successful implementation of policies is a critical step, as reliable evidence can support countries with a systematic approach towards the achievement of SDG 6. This is not to say that making the right policy decisions in the SDG era is simple. It can be quite complex, requiring organisations from different sectors to assess and combine evidence on targets and indicators and to work together to develop better policies for water and sanitation. For this reason, countries need to assess their strengths and weaknesses, missing data, gaps, and opportunities now if they aim to achieve SDG 6 by 2030.
This project builds on the previous UNU-INWEH project “Water-related Sustainable Development Goals” (Pelikan Code: 9656), which was implemented from 1 October 2017 to 31 July 2020. In the previous project, the following major activities were undertaken, and outputs produced:
SDG 6 Policy Support System (SDG-PSS): UNU-INWEH and partners – the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD/DSDG/UNDESA), the Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco) and the Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea and national partners from Tunisia, Costa Rica, Pakistan, and Ghana – investigated options to support policy and decision making under situations with limited data on water and sanitation. The project team developed Sustainable Development Goal 6 Policy Support System (SDG-PSS), a tool to address the challenges of producing critical evidence on the enabling environment for SDG 6 to inform policy and decision-makers and support systematic actions on the achievement of water-related SDGs. The tool is currently available online in English, French, and Spanish languages.
Capacity Development and Training: SDG-PSS is organised around several policy-critical components for all SDG 6 targets and indicators. It requires users to enter data from different sectors to generate evidence on the enabling environment for SDG 6. To facilitate the use of SDG-PSS, UNU-INWEH developed an online training course, which is available in English, French, and Spanish languages as a part of the UNU-INWEH’s Water Learning Center.
Project Regional Workshops: The project team organised three regional workshops to engage more countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean regions to use SDG-PSS and to learn from them about the challenges of producing critical evidence for achieving SDG 6. Until now, the following 34 countries have participated in the project workshops and used SDG-PSS: Tunisia, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Ghana, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Cambodia, Mongolia, Armenia, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Major Events/Workshops/Sessions: Organisation of a session ‘Six critical components for SDG 6.3: does your country count?’ in partnership with UNOSD, K-eco, and the Ministry of Environment, the Republic of Korea at the 2017 World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden; organisation of a session ‘Navigating through limited data while aiming at SDG-6 ‘fit-for-policy’ evidence’ in partnership with UNOSD, K-eco and the Ministry of Environment, the Republic of Korea at the 2018 World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden; co-organisation of 3 webinars and 6 presentations at international conferences/workshops.
Journal Articles and Book Chapters: Sustainable development goal 6: two gaps in the race for indicators (Sustainability Science 14:501–513); Achieving SDG 6 in the Zambezi Basin (Book Chapter in ‘The Zambezi River Basin: Water and Sustainable Development,' Earthscan Series on Major River Basins of the World, Routledge).
The current phase of the project (August 2020 to December 2022 and its extension until December 2023) builds on the work done in the previous phase to continue engaging more countries through a range of activities and outputs, but not limited to the following:
- Revision and improvement of SDG-PSS through a consultative process with long-standing and new project partners to address the needs and challenges shared by the countries. Output: Updated versions of SDG-PSS available online, with enhanced functionality, in six languages – English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Arabic.
- Improvement in the online course on SDG-PSS for capacity development and training of water professionals in line with the revised version of the tool. Output: Updated version of SDG-PSS online course as part of the UNU-INWEH’s Water Learning Center (WLC).
- Co-organisation of two online workshops (1) with Regional Hub countries to update on project status and activities by the project partners; and (2) with other project countries along with additional countries who may be interested in using SDG-PSS. Output: Two online workshops.
- Co-organisation of regional workshops to engage more countries and strengthen collaboration with project partner countries already committed to the implementation and use of SDG-PSS. Also – the final workshop to assess the progress and key learnings from countries on the implementation and use of SDG-PSS and to develop an action plan for engaging more countries in the project beyond 2023. By the end of this phase, the project team aims to roll out SDG-PSS in at least 50 countries from Africa and the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Output: Three regional workshops and one final workshop; workshop reports; SDG-PSS in use in at least 50 countries; an action plan for the project beyond 2023.
- Assessment of an enabling environment and change in enabling environment supported by SDG-PSS for the achievement of SDG 6 in project countries based on the lessons learned from use of the tool and from the feedback of water experts, development actors and policymakers – i.e., impact assessment of SDG-PSS in countries consistently using the tool. Output: Journal Article or UNU-INWEH Report or Policy Brief.
- Extending the approach of SDG-PSS beyond SDG 6 to address emerging challenges such as COVID-19 to build a tool ‘COVID-19 and SDG 6 Policy Support System (COVID-SDG-PSS)’ where health and water professionals can collaborate and work jointly to ensure no or minimal impact on water-related development in the pandemic emergency response situations. This activity will be part of a regional project “Food-water-energy nexus support to post-COVID recovery in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa” led by UNECE. Output: COVID-SDG-PSS in the English language.
- Communicating project-related findings and accomplishments via presentations and sessions at scientific meetings and international fora as well as through opinion editorials, blogs, and short articles.
This project supports UNU-INWEH’s mission to help resolve pressing regional and global water challenges that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States, and their people, and is related to the action areas ‘Growth that works for everyone’ and ‘Inclusive governance’ highlighted in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.