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Making #EveryDropCount: SDG 6 on the 2018 Agenda

The report " Making Every Drop count" released last week by the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) indicates that the world may face a 40% shortfall in water availability by 2030. To put it another way, the current water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa, could become reality for other cities and communities around the world.

This week, the international community is focusing on efforts to address these challenges, especially through implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), which calls for ensuring “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” The celebration of World Water Day on 22 March is taking place in parallel with the launch of the ‘International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028’ and the eighth World Water Forum. These are in addition to last week’s launch of the recommendations of the High Level Panel on Water. Through the HLPW, 11 Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser asked their peers to join with them in committing to valuing water and taking action to address our water challenges. And this week’s launch of the annual World Water Development Report brought an in-depth review of “opportunities to harness the natural processes that regulate various elements of the water cycle.”

These events and launches are a precursor for the SDG 6 debate to be held later in 2018, especially during the July meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This brief provides a chronological overview of these inputs, which seek to drive action on SDG 6, along with new research on the linkages among SDG 6 and the other SDGs.

High Level Panel on Water: On 14 March 2018, the HLPW presented its outcome package to the UN Secretary-General, and thus concluded its mandate with a call for a fundamental shift in the way the world manages water. The UN Secretary-General and the World Bank President convened the HLPW in April 2016 to champion a comprehensive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, as well as improving water and sanitation-related services. Consisting of 11 Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser, the Panel’s outcome package included an open letter to other Heads of State and Government as well as global leaders, calling on them to focus on accelerating progress on water and sanitation challenges.

World Water Development Report 2018: On 19 March 2018, the UN launched the 2018 edition of its annual World Water Development Report (WWDR). Titled, ‘Nature-based Solutions for Water,WWDR 2018 examines the “opportunities to harness the natural processes that regulate various elements of the water cycle.” It draws attention to the ways that adopting nature-based solutions, or approaches that mimic or preserve ecosystem processes and functions, can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The report cites many examples of successful uptake of nature-based solutions, and recommends measures for leveraging financing, including through full assessments of the co-benefits of nature-based solutions to biodiversity, the environment, and human health.

World Water Day 2018: 22 March is celebrated annually as World Water Day. The Day is coordinated by UN-Water, which is the UN’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues, in collaboration with governments and partners.

For 2018, the theme for World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water.’ This theme was the inspiration for the WWDR 2018, and will be incorporated into events held during World Water Week 2018 in August. It will also inspire celebrations and actions for World Toilet Day 2018, in November.

To mark World Water Day, UN-Water and the International Institute for Sustainable Development are announcing a new agreement through which they will collaborate to provide information on the implementation of SDG 6. The stream of information flowing into the SDG Knowledge Hub on water and sanitation projects and solutions will be enhanced through this joint venture. Information will incorporate linkages with the other SDGs, to ensure that water and sanitation challenges are seen within a wider context, and taken up in relationship with other Goals, and vice-versa.

Launch of the Decade on Water for Sustainable Development: Also on 22 March, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) will launch the ‘International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development (2018-2028).’ This launch is one of three events related to the implementation of the SDGs that the UNGA President is organizing in 2018.

During the Decade on Water for Sustainable Development, the international community will seek to advance sustainable development, energize existing programmes and projects, and inspire action to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

8th World Water Forum: The 8th World Water Forum is taking place from 18-23 March, in Brasilia, Brazil. This Forum, which is convening in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, happens every three years. The 2018 event is focused on the theme, ‘Sharing Water’.