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Water and sanitation for all must remain a UN goal

2015 is a milestone year for water and sanitation as the UN could make it a global priority for governments.

This year the UN will be setting the list of priorities for global development – these will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which set targets for the world to achieve by 2015.

The UN has assessed the progress made towards the MDGs and proposed a list of 17 new goals that UN member states will make a final decision on later this year. Water and sanitation is one of the goals on this list and provided it remains in the final list – which is likely to be shortened during the negotiation process – then all UN countries will commit to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Like many global organisations, including WHO, UNICEF and WaterAid, Water UK believes that the post-2015 development framework should include a dedicated water and sanitation goal, which must have ambitious targets for achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030.

Here in the UK we are fortunate to have a drinking water supply and wastewater services that are among the best in the world. But globally, whilst great strides have been made in recent years, a great deal remains to be done. With one in three people without access to a toilet, sanitation is the most off-track of the Millennium Development Goal targets – holding back progress in other areas including child health, nutrition and education.

On 4 December the UN Secretary-General presented a new report, The Road to Dignity by 2030, designed to guide negotiations between member states this year. Water, sanitation and hygiene featured heavily throughout the report. In response to the report, WaterAid Director of Global Policy and Campaigns Margaret Batty said they “welcome the inclusion of water, sanitation and hygiene within the six elements identified by the Secretary-General and emphasise how important it will be to achieve universal access to these essential needs”.

Water UK will continue to press the importance of a water and sanitation goal featuring within the post-2015 development framework in the lead up to final negotiations this year.