Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

April 6, 2021

Water is life for our planet and its inhabitants. Although 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, only 3 per cent of that is freshwater. As most of this freshwater is locked up in glaciers, ice caps, permafrost, or located deep underground, only 1,2 per cent of it can be used for drinking, which leaves us with quite limited water resources that should be diligently preserved.

Today, 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water, and more than 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation. Climate change is exacerbating the situation, with increasing disasters such as floods and droughts. 80 per cent of wastewater in the world flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused, and 70 per cent of the world’s natural wetland extent has been lost, including a significant loss of freshwater species.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional impediment, impairing access for billions of people to safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services – services desperately needed to prevent the virus from spreading .

It is crucial for our survival that we raise awareness and take action on keeping remaining water resources safe and clean, which is what Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) is about.

SDG 6 on water and sanitation, adopted by United Nations Member States at the 2015 UN Summit as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, provides the blueprint for ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all1.

There are many challenges that should be overcome. Uneven allocation of drinkable water, overexploitation, pollution and climate change as well as varying effectiveness of water treatment technologies have resulted in severe stress over water resources in many places of the world.

SDG 6 places a particular emphasis on the development of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, where all stakeholders are called to join their efforts and accelerate the achievement of SDG 6 goals together by 2030 and successfully fight off the global water crisis.

The UN proposed the Global Acceleration Framework, which includes a series of activities aiming to raise awareness and inspire the action towards more sustainable water use, such as Business Forums  for discussion of potential actions, social events like World Toilet Day , and so on. In addition, Member States decide on the formulation of more effective regulations and policies for water use in businesses and industries. However, apart from governmental involvement, we should seriously reconsider the use of water in our everyday life. Every citizen can engage in more sustainable practices such as taking a shorter shower, turn off the tap while brushing teeth, selecting natural detergents, and washing clothes in full loads and with lower temperatures. These actions do not require a lot of effort or drastic changes in lifestyle but they can keep or water resources cleaner and safer. Together, we can accomplish much more thang apart!

Learn more: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal6


  • https://sdgs.un.org/topics/water-and-sanitation
  • https://sdgs.un.org/events/sdg-6-business-forum-breakout-session-24629
  • https://sdgs.un.org/events/world-toilet-day-24789