UN Sustainable Development Goal progress report is misleading and should be withdrawn

Posted on 14/06/17 by End Water Poverty

End Water Poverty is appalled by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals latest progress report submitted to the General Assembly.

Goal 6 specifically aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. However, the progress report presented this past week lacks understanding and analysis of progress towards Goal 6. Instead, it uses terminology from the Millennium Development Goals era which does not reflect the agreements reached painfully over many years by its Member States.


We are two years into implementation of the SDGs, yet the report fails to provide progress on access to safely managed water and sanitation, improvement in water quality, increasing water efficiency, integrated management of water resources, restoring water related ecosystems, expanding international cooperation and capacity building and finally, supporting the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management. Instead the report refers to progress made using outdated indicators.
The report states that “in 2015, 6.6 billion people (over 90 per cent of the world’s population) used improved drinking water sources and 4.9 billion people (over two thirds of the world’s population) used improved sanitation facilities.


These figures are measures of progress from the Millennium Development Goals which are poles apart from the Sustainable Development Goals. It ignores indicators the SDGs have committed to monitor, such as the proportion of the population using safely managed drinking water services and the proportion of the population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water. Using these outdated figures provides an inaccurate picture of global progress towards water, sanitation and hygiene access.


In December 2015, we all celebrated when the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda were agreed, for the people and the planet. We were full of hope and aspiration for the coming years, knowing the targets are ambitious and require massive efforts by all stakeholders involved. Unfortunately, the latest progress report shows that we might be sleep-walking into 2030 without any substantial gains made.


As a global civil society coalition working on water, sanitation and hygiene, End Water Poverty will be mobilising its members to hold national governments and the United Nations accountable for the delivery of Goal 6. We call on the UN to provide accurate data on the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and we would like the UN to withdraw the current report and amend its content to reflect on the agreed SDG indicators.

To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, we cannot continue to do business as usual. We urge the UN to take its role seriously and deliver state-of-the-art, inspiring progress reports.

End Water Poverty is a global coalition of civil society organisations, social movements, medical professionals and trade unions campaigning on water, sanitation and hygiene. They tweet as @EndWaterPoverty