The Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted!

This web page was developed to give members and other visitors an overview of the so called Post-2015 agenda, especially its relevance for the WASH sector.

 TheGlobalGoals_Logo_and_IconsGreat news! On 25 September 2015, the United Nations formally adopted a new set ofGlobal Goals‬ that will unite world leaders over the next 15 years toward the common goal of social progress. We are particularly excited about Goal 6‬: a world where all people can get clean water and proper toilets at home, at school, at work.


About the MDGs  > Progress on the WASH-related MDGs Post-2015 agenda: WASH sector recommendations About Goal 6  SWA and the Post-2015 agenda

About the MDGs


In 2000, all 189 United Nations Member States committed to achieve a set of MDGs with targets designed to spur progress towards ending poverty by 2015. Target 7C was dedicated to halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. More information on the MDGs

Progress on the WASH-related MDGs

post 2015 facts women

By 2010 the target for drinking water was met, five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.  By 2012, 90% of the global population used an improved source of drinking-water compared with 76% in 1990.  However, this means that around 750 million people still lack access to an improved source of drinking water, and many more still have to collect their water from sources which are unsafe, unreliable or far from home.

Sanitation is one of the most off-track MDG targets. In 2012, 2.5 billion people still did not have access to improved sanitation facilities; with 1 billion of these people still practising open defecation. Inequality is one of the major factors holding back progress, with rural areas having the lowest coverage. Expenditures for rural sanitation are estimated to comprise less than 10% of total WASH finance and at the same time urban sanitation presents an increasingly pressing challenge, especially among the urban poor.

Inequalities are not only related to wealth and geography: girls and women are more likely to bear the burden of water collection (See figure 1 [1]). Women without access to sanitation suffer the indignity of being forced to defecate in the open and are at risk from rape and assault.  Also, the widespread lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities limits the participation of women in education and the workplace. It is estimated that a girl is absent from school due to menstruation for four days in 28 days (a month) loses 13 learning days, equivalent to two weeks of learning, in every school term [2].

Post-2015 agenda: WASH sector recommendations


In May 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) convened a meeting of global stakeholders to establish a consultative process to develop proposals for targets and indicators for drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene in the post-2015 agenda. The consultative process took place over 18 months and involved over 70 leading organizations in the sector and more than 200 individual experts.

A set of proposed targets was shared with those developing recommendations for the overall Post-2015 development agenda, including the High Level Panel convened by the UN Secretary-General and the Open Working Group (OWG) of Member States. Based on these and other recommendations, the OWG develop their own set of recommendations, which were approved at the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015.

About Goal 6




WASH falls under Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all“. Goal 6 encompasses the following targets:

6.1 by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
6.3 by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated waste water, and increasing recycling and safe reuse by x% globally.
6.4 by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
6.5 by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate.
6.6 by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
6.A by 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies.
6.B support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management.

Other goals also include different water and sanitation targets:

3.3 by 2030 end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases;
3.9 by 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination;
11.5 by 2030 significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of affected people and decrease by y% the economic losses relative to GDP caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with the focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations;
12.4 by 2020 achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle in accordance with agreed international frameworks and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment;
15.1 by 2020 ensure conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements;
15.8 by 2020 introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems, and control or eradicate the priority species.

SWA and the Post-2015 agenda


In November 2013, the SWA partnership issued a statement supporting the proposed targets developed through the JMP consultations.

SWA partners also articulated a set of Guiding Principles for the Post-2015 agenda that underpin SWA’s vision and priorities.


In June 2015, SWA’s strategy and governance structure were updated to reflect this new development era.


SWA Guiding Principles for the Post-2015directdown

- All stakeholders have important and relevant contributions to make – including governments, multilateral and intergovernmental organizations, development banks, civil society organizations and the people using services.

- Sustainability of services should guide all strategies and actions to improve access to sanitation and drinking water.

- The cross-cutting nature of sanitation and water necessitates effective collaboration and joint working across relevant government ministries, donor and non-governmental agencies and other key institutions.

- Targeting the unserved and maintaining existing services should take precedence over improving services for the already served.

- Particular support is needed to address those countries and contexts that are lagging behind in access to sanitation and water, including access inequalities for rural, poor and internally marginalized populations. Such sustained support will ensure that countries genuinely committed to sanitation and water for all will be afforded the chance to implement national plans and achieve their sanitation and water targets

- Knowledge and evidence must be sought and transparently shared to inform policy-making and action at all levels.

- Aid effectiveness commitments must be implemented to achieve sanitation and water for all, in line with the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action commitments on country ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, mutual accountability, predictability, country systems, conditionality, and untying aid.

- Prior commitments by donors and developing countries serve as a strong foundation to increase access to sanitation and drinking water and for improving aid effectiveness. These commitments should continue to be translated into action and results.

- The Sanitation and Water for All partnership should build on and support existing country and regional institutions, processes and sector networks.

- Sector engagement in fragile states and situations should be guided by OECD-DAC Principles of Good International Engagement In Fragile States and Situations in those contexts.

- Water and Sanitation must be affordable, available, accessible, sustainable and provided on a non-discriminatory basis.

- Global elimination of open defecation by providing a first service level, as well as access to basic standard of drinking water supply are  immediate priorities.

- Success should be measured not only in terms of increasing the number of people with access but also in terms of reducing inequalities – between rich and poor, urban and rural dwellers, slums and formal urban settlements, and disadvantaged groups and the general population.

- Achieving only a basic level of service is not enough – we must progressively increase the level of service.

- Engagement is required with productive users of water (agriculture, energy and industry) as availability and quality of water used to produce drinking water is reliant on good integrated water resources management.

[2] Domestos, WaterAid, WSSCC. We Can’t Wait, A report on Sanitation and hygiene for women and girls. October 2013. Online: