SDG 6: Targets and Indicators

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Target 6.1 By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

  • Indicator 6.1.1: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services

Target 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

  • Indicator 6.2.1: Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water

Target 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 wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

  • Indicator 6.3.1: Proportion of wastewater safely treated
  • Indicator 6.3.2: Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality

Target 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

  • Indicator 6.4.1: Change in water-use efficiency over time
  • Indicator 6.4.2: Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

Target 6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

  • Indicator 6.5.1: Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100)
  • Indicator 6.5.2: Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation

Target 6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

  • Indicator 6.6.1: Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time

Target 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

  • Indicator 6.A.1: Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan

Target 6.B Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

  • Indicator 6.B.1: Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

Where to find data?

The SDG 6 Data Portal brings together data on all the SDG 6 global indicators and other key social, economic and environmental parameters. Through maps, charts and tables, the Portal offers tailored options for visualization and analysis of the data, including on interlinkages.

The Portal is a flagship product of UN-Water’s Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 and complements the Global SDG Indicators Database and indicator-specific databases by offering in-depth information across all SDG 6 indicators, as well as tailor-made analytical and visualization tools, all in one place.

The objectives of the Portal are to:

  • track overall progress towards SDG 6 at global, regional and national levels.
  • enable assessment and analysis of the state of water resources and linkages to other sectors.
  • raise awareness of water and sanitation issues to help catalyze action.
  • encourage and improve SDG 6 monitoring and reporting at all levels.
  • be an entry point to the wealth of water and sanitation information available within the UN system.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Water and sanitation are at the very core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet. SDG6 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide and the vital role that improved drinking water, sanitation and hygiene play in progress in other areas, including health, education and poverty reduction.

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.

Water stress

Holistic management of the water cycle means taking into account the level of “water stress”, calculated as the ratio of total fresh water withdrawn by all major sectors to the total renewable freshwater resources in a particular country or region.

Currently, water stress affects more than 2 billion people around the globe, a figure that is projected to rise. Water stress affects countries on every continent, which hinders the sustainability of natural resources, as well as economic and social development.

While many regions are below the 25% threshold that marks the beginning stages of physical water stress, huge differences are found within and among countries. In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress, an increase from 36 countries in 1998. Of these, 10 countries—on the Arabian Peninsula and in Central Asia and Northern Africa—withdrew more than 100% of their renewable freshwater resources.

Drinking water sources

In 2015, 6.6 billion people, or 91% of the global population, used an improved drinking water source compared to 82% in 2000. Despite that improvement, an estimated 663 million people in 2015 were still using unimproved sources or surface water.

While coverage was around 90% or more in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, widespread inequalities persist within and among countries. Moreover, not all improved water sources are safe. For instance, in 2012 it was estimated that at least 1.8 billion people were exposed to drinking water sources contaminated with faecal matter.

A key aspect of sustainable water management is the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), a follow-up to the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. In 2012, 65% of the 130 countries that responded to an IWRM survey question reported that management plans were in place at the national level, though full implementation varies across regions.

What does this mean and what does this look like?

Water is a big issue in the Pacific region, for many reasons. On the one hand, because of the rise of the sea level. On the other hand, because of the scarcity of safe drinking water.

It is a curious contradiction, that islands surrounded and threatened by water are at the same time in desperate need of water. And there are many stories on the global web on how climate change is affecting this island nation.

However regarding clear statistics about the targets and related indicators of SDG 6 is not readily available. Hopefully we will start getting used to compiling information about the goals in order to have data which will help us make better decisions and generate a better future.

Kiribati adapting to climate change

Drinking water

And then there is hope for the future. For sure in the eyes of all of these people and their wishes for a better future.