SDG 6, Clean Water & Sanitation

Clean Water & Sanitation

SDG#6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and there is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people including children die every year from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. At the current time, more than 2 billion people are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources and by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water. Drought in specific afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition. Fortunately, there has been great progress made in the past decade regarding drinking sources and sanitation, whereby over 90% of the world’s population now has access to improved sources of drinking water.

To improve sanitation and access to drinking water, there needs to be increased investment in management of freshwater ecosystems and sanitation facilities on a local level in several developing countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia.

Global water challenges, such as water scarcity and pollution, are having an increasingly negative impact on businesses. Now more than ever, companies need to assess their water performance and the watersheds in which they operate in order to address these challenges and ultimately stay in business.
Water-related business risks are generally placed in three broad categories:
  • Physical risk – Relates to water quantity (scarcity and flooding) and water quality that is unfit for use (pollution)
  • Reputational risk – Relates to the impact on a company’s brand and can influence customer purchasing decisions
  • Regulatory risk – Relates to the capacity of government to manage water effectively and sustainability
Water stewardship helps companies identify and manage water-related business risks and allows them to contribute to and help enable more sustainable management of shared freshwater resources. Stewardship also reduces operational costs; protects the company from ensuing water stress; and improves the company’s image in the eyes of consumers, investors, and nearby communities.
So what can your company do?


  1. Adopt water stewardship practices in your business, by joining the CEO Water CEO Water Mandate.
    The CEO Water Mandate can assist you in developing, implementing and disclosing your water sustainability policies and practices. It will enable your company to share best and emerging practices and to forge multi-stakeholder partnerships to address water challenges found in river basins around the world.

  2. Find partners on Water Action Hub and scale up impact on water challenges
    The Water Action Hub is an innovative online platform that promotes collaboration among groups of companies and/or other stakeholders to address local water challenges. It helps your company identify potential collaborators with whom you can engage on water-related collective action projects to improve water management in regions of critical interest.
    Hub users can find partners and projects by searching across various criteria, including: action areas; geography; perceived local water challenges; existing projects; or type of organization. An interactive map of projects enables you to quickly see if a project exists in a particular region of interest.
    Let me mention a great example of partnering regarding water challenges;

    During a high-level session at World Water Week #WWWeek in Stockholm 2017,H&M group and WWF announced a new initiative to help Turkey tackle its water challenges, particularly pollution, and ensure sustainable, clean water supplies for businesses, people and nature.
  3. Determine your path to water stewardship
    Companies have different approaches to embracing water stewardship. It’s important to identify what process works best for you, so that you can address water needs most effectively for your business.
    Every step you take may require different degrees of investment and sophistication. That’s why many companies evolve from basic to more advanced water stewardship practice.
    Below is just one model companies can follow, but some companies may find that another process works better for them.

Facts & Figure  
  • 1 in 4 health care facilities lacks basic water services
  • 3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities.
  • At least 892 million people continue to practice open defecation.
  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80 per cent of households without access to water on premises.
  • Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source has increased from 76 per cent to 90 per cent
  • Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge.
  • 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines
  • More than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal
  • Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases
  • Approximately 70 per cent of all water abstracted from rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for irrigation
  • Floods and other water-related disasters account for 70 per cent of all deaths related to natural disasters
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