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Sustainable Development Goal for Water

The Sustainable Development Goal for Water

This weekend, the UN will launch the new Sustainable Development Goals. These goals build from the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were a driver for the world’s development priorities from 1990-2015.

MDG #7 focused on the environment with a sub-target devoted to water, including a target to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” The MDGs have had their detractors, but I would argue the MDGs were very effective in catalyzing and focusing development investments and policies to reduce global poverty. In terms of performance for MDG #7, a staggering 2.3 billion people gained access to water infrastructure from 1990 to 2015, surpassing the target. For sanitation, we still have a long way to go, but progress on sanitation has been even faster than water – it just started from a much lower baseline. Click here for the UN’s report.

Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030)

Over the past couple of years, the UN and development actors from around the world have developed new goals for the period of 2016-2030. These will be formally launched this weekend. And now that being “millennial” is so yesterday, the new goals are simply called: “Sustainable Development Goals”, or the SDGs.

SDG #6 is focused on water. By most accounts, including my own, the new SDG is solid and gives us a great blue print for the water sector.

SDG Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The sub-targets are:

6.1 Universal and equitable access to drinking water
6.2 Adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene
6.3 Water quality and pollution prevention
6.4 Water use efficiency
6.5 Integrated water resources management (IWRM) and sustainable withdrawals
6.6 Protected and restored water-related ecosystems
6.7 International cooperation and capacity building
6.8 Strengthened community participation

What I appreciate about the SDG is the focus on the SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT of water and sanitation services FOR ALL. (Previously, the MDGs only focused on improving access to infrastructure for some).

SDG #6 and the Private Sector

In 2013, CRS published a brief on water for Achieving Water Services that Last for Central America focusing on two themes for the water sector: (1) sustainable water services and (2) water source protection.

A critical point in our strategy is the need to engage with the private sector to improve our management of water resources. As CRS develops its own skills for working with the private sector across our programming, and for water specifically, we suggest there are three ways to engage:

  1. Policy Advocacy to build an enabling environment for water stewardship, with clear laws, regulations, and “rules of the game”
  2. Support and promote civil society to keep businesses responsible in terms of protecting water sources, responsible water use, and safe wastewater management
  3. Collaborating with companies who want to do good to achieve the SDG #6

As an input here, I recently met Jason Morrison from the influential Pacific Institute who leads work on the CEO Water Mandate. He share with me a recent, short article called:

Serving the Public Interest:
Corporate Water Stewardship and the Sustainable Development Goals

Below is a quote from the article that I think is critical and relevant to companies involved in the specialty coffee sector:

Companies seeking to manage water-related business risks can and should contribute to improved water management and governance that is also in the public interest. If done responsibly, integrating private sector action into global policy frameworks and local implementation practices makes it possible for companies to contribute considerable resources and expertise to the achievement of the SDGs.

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