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Civil Society Messages during the SWA High-level Meetings

19 Apr 2017

Answering the SDG challenge means putting the most marginalized populations at the centre of our common action and working collaboratively.

On the 19th and 20th of April 2017 the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Partnership, UNICEF and the World Bank hosted the High-level Meetings (HLM) in Washington DC focusing on how to finance the sustainable development goal on water (SDG 6), strengthen the sector, and reach universal access.

Around 40 governments were present at the High-level Meetings. The other partners of the partnership (International institutions, CSOs, Private sector, Research and learning) were present. Eleven CSO representatives attended from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe and the USA. The CSO delegation had an important role in sharing the CSO messages, facilitating interactions, and reporting on the main discussions to their regions.

Ms. Sheela Patel, Founding Director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) in India and Chair of Slum Dwellers International (SDI) was the High-level Speaker for CSOs at the Sector Ministers Meeting and Finance Minister Meeting. She shared the CSO messages by illustrating them with her personal experience of elaborating saving schemes and of participatory collaboration between the most marginalized and local governments.

The SWA CSO constituency, which gathers more than 60 organisations (Community Based Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations and networks), has identified key messages that they shared at the 2017 Sanitation and Water for All High-level Meetings in Washington.

The key messages that have been put forwards by CSOs at the meeting have been:

  1. Reaching safe universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and leave no one behind is a priority for action.

Access to sanitation and hygiene to the most vulnerable populations is lagging behind. This needs to be reflected in policies, budget allocation and through active participation of local populations in shaping their own solutions. In this the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation are essential standards for achieving progress and offering directions for action.

  1. Reinforcing the four SWA Collaborative Behaviours3 is key and should be strengthened through strong accountability mechanisms, transparency and community participation.
  2. Allowing for additional finance strategies is important, however needs to be carefully evaluated to ensure they effectively reduce inequalities.
  3. CSOs, CBOS and NGOs are a collaborative partner for governments and sector institutions for SDG implementation.
  4. Sanitation and Water for All is a main partnership to achieve SDG 6.1 and 6.2 and for reinforcing the sector. It needs therefore to develop the required accountability mechanism so that all actors within the partnership can take steps towards a common progress.


The High-level Meetings are an important opportunity to make those messages heard, but they are only one part of the overall work that Sanitation and Water for All assumes. The key issue here is to act towards strengthening the dialogue at the national level and strengthen national systems. Hence, CSOs will continue engaging after the High-level Meetings with their governments to make sure that financing for access to water, sanitation and hygiene and reaching the SDG is a long term priority, and that the High-level Meetings mark an important moment for partners to evaluate progress and the key challenges for achieving our shared goal.