Date of Meeting: 11 July 2018

Meeting Organizer: World Council of Churches

ISJC Staff Present: Dr Laurelle Smith

Reporter: Dr Laurelle Smith

Which SDG does this topic cover? 6

Type of meeting: High Level Political Forum Side Event

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Prof. Stefan Uhlenbrook, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), UNESCO
Coordinator of the UN-Water Task Force to produce the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 

Main findings of the Synthesis Report SDG 6 with large Societal and Ethical Dimensions – launched on Monday

  • If we continue like we are now we will not achieve SDG 6 – we are so far off track, we are going in the right direction but we are extremley far behind
  • Water is everywhere, for hundreads of years people have been using it, it connects to everything else
  • Water cuts across many of the other SDGs – peace, sustainable communities, eco systems – to achieve SDG 6 we need to also make progress with the other goals
  • We saw many more people connected to basic water in 2014 than in 2010, but still not enough
  • Sub Saharan Africa has been left behind – less than 50% of the population does not have accesses to basic water
  • Only one out of five countries are on track to reach basic water service – its time to rethink priorities and act now. If we go at the current pace we wont get there by 2030
  • Lack of access to water affects childrens growth and stunting – chances of stunting is much higher in countries with poor sanitation and water supply
  • Not just physical stunting but stunting of brain cells – impaired, limited branching, abnormal, shorter branches
  • Need to manage water properley – intergrated water resource management – if we move at this rate we wont reach all countries by 2030
  • The richer the country the better acsess to water
  • It is women and girls who are responsible for fetching and collecting water – preventing them form doing other work and attending school
  • Water and sanitation should be affordable – payment of services should not present a barrier to access


Prof. Leo Heller, UN Special Rapporteur, Human Right to WATSAN

  • Indicator 6.1 and 6.2 are extremely important
  • When we try to translate human rights to water and sanitation in to practice we need to look at the principles of the rights – accessibility, affordability, quality etc.
  • Progressive realisation is important – not only to climb the ladder but also includes non-discrimination
  • Accountability is not well addressed
  • We need to integrate water and sanitation with management
  • Do we need to develop a mechanism for reporting?


Dr Monika Weber - Fahr, Executive Secretary and CEO,Global Water Partnership  (GWP)

  • There is so little water in some places – How do you decide who gets it? How do you distribute it? Who is the priority?
  • You cannot make progress if you don’t work with faith groups
  • There is a natural alliance between faith groups and those who work on water management – faith based groups are motivated and well organised. There is something special about faith groups. When you are making decisions about something so important you really need everyone at the table – not just governments or policy makers. The challenges change every day and you have to have the people at the table who are facing these challenges.
  • Faith based groups have had an enormous impact on health and education because they have prioritised these issues– if they prioritise water they can make a difference with that too
  • There are commitments, but there are no legal obligations, to make a difference from governments
  • We need a moral compass - that’s what faith groups bring to the table
  • We all need to push our societies to work 


Dr Azza Karam, UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion & Development

  • Engagement with faith actors is the tipping point – where there is conflict the challenges are magnified
  • Where there are conflicts there will be problems with water. Wars are being fought over water. Religious actors are on both sides of these wars - they are not just working to help all have acsess to it.
  • There needs to be a common intergrated management approach
  • Sometimes religions can block the best work
  • We need to stop discrimination in all areas


Elizabeth Yaari, Senior Programme Manager, Transboundary Water Management, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

  • All voices are needed to achieve SDG 6
  • Water can bring transboundary communities together in a way that is very unique


Rev. Douglas Leonard, World Council of Churches

  • Water is foundational to life and a fundamental human and faith based right. 


Dinesh Suna, Ecumenical Water Network of World Council of Churches

  • The Ecumenical Water Network of World Council of Churches started in 2006 to have the churches voice in issues of water justice – in 2010 water became recognised as a human right
  • Have been working together on behalf of the faith communities
  • Water is a gift of God. It should be a public good, shouldn’t be privatised. We stand up for water justice. There is an unequal accessibility and distribution.
  • Involved in advocacy to governments. WCC has become a blue community – recognising water as a human right and promoting public control over water so every community has access and saying no to bottled water where tap water is safe to drink.
  • Bottled water is not allowed in the WCC headquaters in Geneva


Mina Guli, CEO of Thirst and water advocate and ultra-runner

  • Running 100 marathons in 100 days to raisa awareness of water issues and mobilise people and build communities
  • Encouraging everyone to run atleast 6 kms every day at water conferences to support SDG 6 and recognise the distance that women walk every day to collect water
  • We have a massive water problem in the world – 40% of the worlds population live in areas of water scaricity
  • In just 12 years demand for water will way out-weigh supply
  • Most people dont know water is used to power lights, computers, make your clothes and shoes
  • The amount of water it took to make the clothes you are wearing today was more than the amount of water you drank before you were 40 years old.
  • Water is the future. It is economic growth.
  • One hamburger uses the same amount of water than taking a shower for 2 hours
  • It will affect location of people, forced displacement, location of farms, which all leads to other probelms
  • The next world war will be fought over water- the consequence will be that in the next generation there will be water refugees
  • There are solutions and innovations at grass roots level
    • A social enterprise providing access to clean and affordable water to communities living in water scarce areas using an innovative fog catching system 
    • People living in the dessert are learning how to farm from youtube and now are using water saving solutions
  • Faith based communities can break down barriers – can bring toegether people to have conversations in ways other groups cant
  • Water unifies – we can use it as a tool of peace
  • We need to make saving water famous, the future is in our hands
  • Water is part of our lives all day, every day


What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • The Salvation Army has a responsibility to make sure it manages all water use responsibility in corps, offices and facilities, such as schools and hospitals.
  • As The Salvation Army is present in many communities, including those where water is scarce, it is well placed to be able to educate communities on sustainable water use, bring people together to talk about water and help promote and provide clean water supplies where possible.


Web links for more information

Tags: United Nations, SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation