Agencies Launch Water Monitoring Tools and Processes for SDG 6 Reporting
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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International agencies have launched several tools and processes for tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) on clean water and sanitation, in preparation for a monitoring report to the 2018 session of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).

UN-Water is coordinating the preparation of an SDG synthesis report on water and sanitation.

Other agencies are offering tools and processes for tracking environmental flows, evapotranspiration rates and water use in agriculture.

May 2017: International agencies have launched several tools and processes for tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) on clean water and sanitation, in preparation for reporting to the 2018 session of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). UN-Water is coordinating preparation of an SDG synthesis report on water and sanitation. Other agencies are offering tools and processes for tracking environmental flows, evapotranspiration rates and water use in agriculture.

UN-Water announced that the ‘SDG Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation’ will be published in May 2018, with the cooperation of a members’ task force, including the CEO Water Mandate, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), UN Environment, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN World Water Assessment Programme of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (WWAP-UNESCO) will coordinate production of the report. The publication will provide an integrated approach to SDG 6 reporting.

UN-Water also announced that the ‘GEMI’ monitoring framework, created in 2014 by UN Environment, the UN-Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and several other UN agencies, will complement other UN monitoring processes: the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), and the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS). GEMI’s focus is on wastewater treatment and water quality, water use efficiency, integrated water resources management (IWRM) and water-related ecosystems (SDG targets 6.3 to 6.6). GEMI will incorporate work done previously under the FAO AQUASTAT database on water resources and UN Environment’s GEMStat on water quality. UN-Water is convening inception webinars and in-country discussions with national focal points in approximately 50 countries, introducing a step-by-step methodology for each, developing baselines for each of the SDG 6 indicators.

UN-Water is convening inception webinars and in-country discussions with national focal points in approximately 50 countries, introducing a step-by-step methodology for each, developing baselines for each of the SDG 6 indicators.

Meanwhile, FAO launched a ‘Global Framework’ for action on water scarcity in agriculture. The initiative is helping countries to: draw on international expertise through programmes and partnerships; undertake nationally-led planning processes for drought risk management, irrigation modernization, and water accounting and auditing; and increase awareness and political prioritization of water scarcity as an issue. The Global Framework involves approximately 30 partners from research institutions, think-tanks and international agencies, and was launched at the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP22). G-20 agriculture ministers agreed to an action plan at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, Germany, on 22 January 2017, and partners held their first meeting from 19-20 April 2017, in Rome, Italy.

At the Global Framework meeting, FAO introduced an online database that measures evapotranspiration – the rate at which water evaporates and returns to the atmosphere. The database, known as WaPOR, is an open-access resource drawing on satellite data to help countries calculate and monitor the productivity of their water use in agriculture. The database focuses on parts of Africa and the Near East that are facing water scarcity.

The Global Framework meeting issued a ‘Rome Statement’, recognizing the ‘intricate links and complex feedback loops’ between sustainable agriculture, food security, water scarcity and climate change, and agreeing to coordinate efforts. Among their commitments, partners agreed to: ensure due consideration of water governance and politics; prioritize the most vulnerable, including subsistence farmers and indigenous peoples; contribute to improving water resource monitoring and measurement toward achieving the SDGs; and report regularly on their experiences, innovative approaches and lessons learned, as part of the UNFCCC Global Climate Action Agenda.

On 11 April, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) launched a research report on ‘Global Environmental Flow Information for the Sustainable Development Goals.’ The report calls for environmental flows to become part of the SDG discourse, explains how environmental flows are calculated, and provides some baseline information. The report was launched together with an online tool developed by IWMI, the Global Environmental Flow Information System. The online system allows users to identify existing or desired flows for specific geographic areas, which can then be compared with information on actual water withdrawals in the selected areas.

Agencies have also been reporting on innovative practices for water accounting and management at the national and regional levels. The World Bank highlighted Botswana’s progress in applying a ‘Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services’ (WAVES) methodology to develop water accounts covering major dams, groundwater and water usage. The WAVES approach integrates water revenue to the government, recurrent and capital expenditure, and subsidies, and calculates the value added to the economy from each cubic meter of water use. Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources convenes an annual ‘Water Pitso’ consultative meeting with stakeholders, which has in the past, compared the water-use efficiency of various economic sectors such as agriculture and mining. [UN-Water Publication Web Page] [GEMI Web Page] [UN Web Page on Monitoring SDG 6] [FAO Global Framework Web Page] [Global Framework Concept Note] [Rome Statement] [UN Press Release on WaPOR] [WaPOR Database] [IWMI Press Release] [IWMI Research Report] [IWMI Global Environmental Flow Information System] [World Bank WAVES Partnership Web Page]

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