2015 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference. Water and Sustainable Development: From Vision to Action. 15-17 January 2015

Action on… Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene remains one of the world’s most urgent issues. Water-related improvements are crucial in meeting the development goals, reducing child mortality, and improving health in a sustainable way. In addition, they induce multiple social and economic benefits, adding importantly to enhanced well-being.

Worldwide, 748 million people remain without access to an improved source of water and 2.5 billion remain without access to improved sanitation. The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is explicitly recognized in a number of international conventions and treaties, 16 articulated in CESCR General Comment No. 15 of 2002 and affirmed by resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in 2010. This right obliges States to provide for its progressive realization and entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for essential personal and domestic uses.

Building upon the progress of the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water supply and sanitation, the aim of a global goal on water is to address "unfinished business" and encourage governments to adopt ambitious targets for improving WASH service levels in order to reduce the global burden of WASH-related diseases, to improve productivity and economic growth, and to reduce inequalities between population groups.

In July 2014, the inter-governmental Open Working Group - created to develop a proposal for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - adopted a global water goal entitled "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all".

Sustainable Development Goals: Targets related to WASH
3.3 by 2030 end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases;
3.9 by 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination;
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.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 for improving water and sanitation management.
Source: Outcome document OWG (2014)

The target builds on the existing MDG Target 7C. The scope is expanded to include hygiene, and to cover non-domestic settings.

According to WHO/UNICEF achieving the WASH targets will require the following actions:

  • Elimination of open defecation;
  • Universal access to basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for households, schools and health facilities;
  • Halving the proportion of population without home access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services;
  • Elimination of inequalities in access to services by population groups.

Some of the implementation challenges that have been generally recognised include the need for increased and locally appropriate WASH financing, institutional capacity, political support and management of inconsistencies in the enforcement of legislation. There is a need to scale up appropriate technologies and improve capacity to deal with inequalities and tackle the problems of open defecation, WASH in schools and health centres.

The implementation tools that will be discussed in the Conference include:

  • The need to focus on service delivery not solely capital costs, to ensure that services are financially viable, improve budgeting and enhance accountability and transparency in financing;
  • Water governance, i.e., strengthening independent regulatory agencies, improving administration, political will and accountability, including planning safely managed systems, service levels outside the household, access to information, participation, non-discrimination and accountability, strengthening monitoring, encouraging and supporting the role of local organisations and multistakeholder participation and coordination;
  • Technologies and approaches such as Community Led Total Sanitation to eliminate open defecation;
  • Capacity development, by building institutional and human resource capacity for increasing WASH service coverage and maintaining the quality of existing services.

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About the Conference

>> Conveners and partners
>> Objectives and expected outcomes
>> Conference flyerPDF Document
>> AgendaPDF Document
>> StructurePDF Document
>> ParticipantsPDF Document


>> Accommodation
>> Travelling to Zaragoza
>> Your stay in Zaragoza
>> Map

The vision

>> Rio+20
>> Water and sustainable development
>> Global commitments on water
>> A post-2015 global goal for water
>> Water and the Open Working Group (OWG)
>> The role of actors involved

The action

>> Capacity development
>> Financing and economic instruments
>> Governance frameworks
>> Technology

Action on…

>> Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
>> Water Resources Management
>> Water Quality
>> Risk management

14 January: Pre-Conference Side events and Technical Visits

>> Technical visit: La Cartuja
>> Technical visit: The Ebro River Basin Authority and its Automatic System for Hydrologic Information (SAIH)
>> Technical visit: Expo + Water Park
>> New sources: Wastewater reuse
>> Local level actions in decentralized water solidarity towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
>> Water Footprint Assessment
>> Technological advances and Water Policy
>> Cultivando Agua Boa Programme
>> CODIA and water and energy in LAC
>> The fulfillment of the human right to water and sanitation

15 January: Setting the scene and the context

>> Achieving sustainable water for all in LAC
>> Achieving water security for Asia and the Pacific
>> Ensuring implementation of the water-related SDGs in Europe
>> Setting the scene

16 January: Whose action?

>> Academia
>> Business
>> Civil society
>> Governments and local authorities
>> Media and Communicators

17 January: Integrating knowledge and the way forward

>> Multi-stakeholder dialogue on tools for implementation


>> Cases
>> Conference daily
>> Conference Communications ReportPDF Document
>> Discussion forum
>> Information briefs on Water and Sustainable Development
>> Interviewing conference participants
>> Overview Papers
>> Presentations from participants
>> Session Reports
>> Tool Papers
>> Toolbox
>> Twitter Activity Report
>> Video recording of sessions
>> Video interviews with conference participants

Promotional materials

>> Conference banners
>> Conference posterPDF document