HLPF Reviews SDG 6, Calling for Greater Efficiency of Water Use
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The HLPF has opened its 2018 session and conducted a review of global progress toward SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).

Delegates heard that “the world is not on track” to meet the SDG 6 targets by 2030, in view of increasing freshwater pollution, water stress, and a declining share of ODA for water-related activities.

9 July 2018: The UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is underway at UN Headquarters in New York, US. On the first day, governments began an “in-depth review” of selected SDGs, with a session on global progress towards SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation). Delegates heard that “the world is not on track” to meet the SDG 6 targets by 2030, in view of increasing freshwater pollution, water stress, and a declining share of official development assistance (ODA) for water-related activities.

The review of SDG 6 featured several high-level speakers, including Danilo Turk, Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace and former President of Slovenia, and Leo Heller, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation. The review of SDG 6 was aided by the ‘SDG 6 Synthesis Report,’ which was prepared under UN-Water coordination and presented by Stefan Uhlenbrook, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The discussion was moderated by Joakim Harlin, UN-Water.

Delegates discussed their national efforts to achieve SDG 6 and highlighted the need for good governance and partnerships. Several speakers underscored the links between water, peace and security, and Turk proposed holding an international conference on water management to discuss infrastructure and financing. Many speakers lamented the fact that the HLPF would only devote three hours to a review of SDG 6 during its four-year cycle.

IWMI said cities can be water producers, not only water consumers.

Non-governmental speakers also presented their perspectives on SDG 6. Claudia Sadoff, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), stated that cities can be water producers, not only water consumers. The Major Group for Workers and Trade Unions cautioned against privatization, and called for water utilities to be “re-municipalized” to improve equity in service delivery. Other speakers noted the need to promote efficiency of water use in the agriculture and energy sectors.

Among other issues discussed during the opening day of the 2018 HLPF was the US$200 billion shortfall in SDG financing. Keynote speaker Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, proposed ways to cover this shortfall, including by closing tax havens, taxing the five big technology companies, and establishing a global carbon tax.

In addition, the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) anticipated the launch of a financing framework for SDG data, in October 2018. Also on the use of data for monitoring progress, participants raised the need for disaggregated data to reveal inequalities and lack of inclusion, for example, of people with disabilities. [IISD RS Coverage of Monday 9 July] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of HLPF 2018]


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