Some 6-7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are reviewed every year through a United Nations (UN) mechanism called the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). The 2018 HLPF is taking place at the UN headquarters in New York, 9-18 July.
Among others, SDG 6, which refers to access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems by 2030, is under review. The synthesis report on SDG 6, prepared by UN Water, declared that the world “is not on track to meet the SDG 6 targets by 2030.”
The Ecumenical Water Network of the World Council of Churches (EWN) is keenly following the 2018 HLPF. Dinesh Suna, EWN coordinator, attended the official review of SDG 6 at the HLPF on 9 July.
Together with EWN partners, Suna described the HLPF review session on water as “worrisome”.
Prof. Stefan Uhlenbrook, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), UNESCO and coordinator of the UN-Water Task Force, which produced the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018, said at the review that “more than two billion people live in countries in high water stress.”
“While there is a significant loss of biodiversity, the freshwater ecosystem is not functioning effectively, and the demand on water for agriculture and food production, which use up 70% of fresh water, continues to rise due to inefficient usage of water”, said Uhlenbrook.
Prof. Leo Heller, UN special rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation raised an issue that SDG 6 should be reviewed within the human rights framework in implementing, monitoring and reporting of the goal. He emphasized the need for “a stronger focus on affordability principles with regards to drinking water”, he said.
Dr Joakim Harlin, vice-chair of UN Water who moderated the session, echoed the concerns of the EWN: “Three hours of review at the HLPF of the SDG 6, once in every 4 years is not enough,” he said.
“We need an inter-governmental mechanism to address SDG 6 to be established to give sufficient time to review the progress on water and sanitation for all”, added Harlin.
The EWN organized a side event on 11 July along with other partners on the role of water and faith communities towards achieving SDG 6.
Besides SDG 6, the 2018 HLPF is focusing on Goals 7 (energy), 11 (cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 15 (life on land) and 17 (partnerships for the goals).