Long Read
7 September 2017

Blog series: Understanding the values of water

Simavi’s Senior WASH program officer, Tim Sutton, attended the World Water Week in Stockholm. The second in a series of two blogs captures his views and reflections after the event in Stockholm.

During the open plenary session  there was an interesting contrast of speakers from the President of the United Nations General Assembly, former  Head of States, Ministerial representatives including the Dutch Infrastructure Minster and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen and Stockholm City Mayor. However, one speaker with an interesting perspective was the Astronaut, Christer Fuglesang, member of the Royal Academy of Science, Sweden, who shared his unique experience from having seen the earth from space and shared his views on why we must protect and value our water resources. Fuglesang conveyed how important Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse was in space and noted that all water – including urine – in a spaceship is recycled and reused. This quote really spurred this year’s theme in finding ways to better use, and reuse, the world’s increasingly scarce fresh water.

What was very apparent during the week were the many challenges in meeting the SDG 6 targets by 2030, and how water scarce sub-Saharan Africa have the highest population growth projections, and with increasing urbanisation, these challenges will get harder. This highlighted the financial resources required to achieve universal coverage. The session on Financing and Equity presented by Sophie Trémolet from World Bank Group, with conveners DGIS, OECD, IRC, Water.org, and Simavi, highlighted the need for creative forms of financing sources to meet the funding gaps in delivering inclusive WASH services in urban areas. This would include leverage in more financing from private sources (via tariffs), and from commercial finance including microfinance institutions and commercial banks.

During the conference, there were some promising innovations in urban sanitation and the development of Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) approaches around sanitation service, value chain, and achieving circular economy. This has seen the development of a number of approaches, one approach that’s growing is the container based sanitation with urine diversion, on-site sanitation. However, this is proving affective in accessing densely populated urban areas (marginalized people). The concept uses light sealable containers easy to transport that are transferred to a processing facility to turn the sludge into fuel or fertilizer, it’s all circular.

Lastly, it’s been encouraging to see how the SDGs this year really set the stage, the SDGs serve as an integrated, comprehensive approach for global development. The SDG 6 is interlinked with all the SDGs, this stresses the importance of breaking the silos across sectors, ensuring policy makers invest in all the SDGs, and the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships leveraging cross-sectoral approaches.

Thank you to SIWI who organised World Water Week, in Stockholm, I look forward to returning next year.



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