Water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. It has a prominent place in the challenging 2030 SDG agenda. The specific water goal (SDG 6) is dedicated to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
In addition, water also plays a role in other SDGs, such as the goal to combat hunger and malnutrition, achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, ensure inclusive and qualitative education and combat climate change and its impacts. However, the Paris climate agreement does not contain a explicit reference to water. Fortunately national governments plans that have been submitted by the member states often do refer to water. This provides us with several opportunities to address the issues of WASH in the context of climate change.
Last year, the Dutch Minister Ploumen announced a new commitment to provide 50 million people with access to sanitation and 30 million people with access to clean drinking water. Although the new commitment of the Dutch government is significant, it is important that Minister Ploumen takes into account the system changes that are needed to achieve long lasting change and achievement of the SDG’s. This means more attention to the sustainability of development interventions, integration of water management and financial sustainability, integrated approached of WASH and ecology and sustainable use of water resources.
Together with the Netherlands Water Partnership NGO-platform, Simavi already proposed 11 recommendations that cover various topics such as access, sustainability, governance and finance for clean drinking water and toilets. If we really want a world that leaves no one behind and realise sustainable improvement to people’s health, Minister Ploumen needs to intensify her commitment to WASH and present a clear WASH strategy and start with the implementation thereof.