The UN announced new plans to accelerate progress to achieve the water and sanitation-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a special event today.

UN-Water announced the creation of a new framework to better support countries over the next ten years to help them meet the targets for SDG 6, which calls for ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

In the event featuring the United Nations Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly, heads of 10 United Nations entities and stakeholders from civil society and the private sector, the framework was welcomed by United Nations Member States.

Progress on Goal 6 is alarmingly off track. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 there are 2.2 billion people around the world who still lack safely managed drinking water, including 785 million without basic drinking water.

And while the population using safely managed sanitation services increased from 28 per cent in 2000 to 45 per cent in 2017, 4.2 billion people worldwide still lacked safely managed sanitation, including 2 billion who were without basic sanitation. Of these, 673 million people practiced open defecation.

“Today, Sustainable Development Goal 6 is badly off track,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “This is hindering progress on the 2030 Agenda, the realization of human rights and the achievement of peace and security around the world.

He added that, “Water globally is threatened by the twin threats of increasing demand and withdrawals and the degradation of water sources and associated ecosystems due to climate change, pollution and other threats. The water and sanitation crisis demands a holistic, systemic and multilateral response.”

The SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework has been developed in partnership with over 30 UN entities and 40 international organizations outlining a more efficient and coordinated support to countries to ensure global availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs said “only if we raise the ambition through strong political will and commitment at the highest level, will we be able to achieve SDG 6 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The water and sanitation crisis is getting worse and lack of progress on SDG 6 undermines progress on all of the other SDGs, particularly on global health, education, food, gender equality, energy and climate change. The situation compromises the entire 2030 Agenda and other international agreements and weakens the international community’s ability to combat and prevent pandemics.

"COVID-19 makes us acutely aware of our shared vulnerability. The consequences of chronic underinvestment in water and sanitation services for billions of people are becoming abundantly clear, " said the Chair of UN-Water and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Gilbert F. Houngbo. "Yet the extraordinary global disruption offers a unique opportunity to use the framework and get the world on track to deliver SDG 6".

Under the Framework, the UN entities will commit to strengthening their collaboration and unify the international community’s support to countries. This will be done through:
  • A sharpened focus on concrete support at the country level, as part of the UN reform, will scale up the impact of the UN system’s contribution. Through a reinvigorated Resident Coordinators system and a new generation of UN Country Teams, UN‑Water will provide access to expertise, technical assistance and advocacy support.
  • A clear commitment from heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes to work better together to deliver SDG 6. This represents a special opportunity in how the UN system and its partners deliver collectively.
  • A multi-stakeholder, high-level, annual stock-taking moment, complemented by the SDG 6 Action Space, will enable stakeholders to keep up momentum on SDG 6, as well as share lessons and best practices.
Coordinated by UN-Water, the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework is a contribution to the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030.