How Millennials can work towards the achievement of the 6th Sustainable Development Goal
We, people leaving in developed societies, tend to take this fundamental source of life for granted, forgetting that not everyone on this earth is as lucky. In fact, there still are billions of people all over the world that lack access to clean water. According to a report of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), 844 million people don’t have access to a basic drinking water source. Can you imagine? It’s a human basic need and there are still people out there who have to live without it or to rely on sources of drinking water that are fecally contaminated. Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and, unfortunately, the number is expected to rise.
Moreover, 2.3 billion people, meaning 1 in 3 people, still lack access to sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. As a consequence of this, personal hygiene is put as such risk that water and sanitation related diseases still remain among the major causes of death in children under five. In fact, more than 800 children die everyday from diarrhoeal diseases linked to poor hygiene; diseases that are perfectly preventable and treatable.
A proper management of water and sanitation services is key not only to a good health, but also to ensure a good and healthy production of food and contribute to decent work and economic growth. Also, a better handling of water would also help us preserve our water ecosystems, protect their biodiversity and take action on climate change. So, it’s pretty evident that Goal 6 is the basis on which many other SDGs depend on, which makes us understand its importance.
The UN has a special sector, called “United Nations Water”, that aims at coordinating the efforts of United Nations entities and international organizations that work specifically on water and sanitation issues. It also provides relatable data on water management issues and inspires action around the world. For example, it organizes global workshops on how to collect and monitor information about Goal 6.
However, this has a very high cost. Literally. In, fact, the World Bank has estimated that achieving clean water and sanitation for everyone will cost approximately $114 billion a year, between now and 2030, and these are only the costs for constructing new infrastructure. Societies themselves won’t be able to provide that much money on their own; therefore, donors’ financing and private investments will be critical to filling this financing gap. Fortunately, there are many funds out there such as, for example, “water.org” (https://water.org/) that are collecting money to devolve into the building of proper water infrastructure; however, if you can’t bare the weight of having to give out money, there still are some other ways in which you could help:
- Simply don’t waste water. Be more mindful of how you use it. For example, don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth.
- Don’t take baths, but take short showers instead: bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower.
- If you have a dishwasher, don’t rinse your plates before running the machine.
- Support organizations and campaigns that empower communities to improve their own sanitation and hygiene, such as “United Nations Water” (http://www.unwater.org/), a UN special sector that aims at coordinating the efforts of United Nations entities and international organizations that work specifically on water and sanitation issues. It also provides relatable data on water management issues and inspires action around the world.
- After enhancing your knowledge about access to clean water, water sanitation and water management in general, you might make a significant impact on the achievement of Goal 6 by inspiring other youth to action. In this regard, a relevant example of youth leadership is Sankalp Mohan Sharma, an Indian boy whose voice and engagement on water issues are reaching thousands people in his country and beyond.
As you can see, it’s easier than it looks! Try putting this little advice into work and see for yourself how much of a difference that will make. And if you are already taking action to achieve clean water and sanitation for all, please don’t waste any more time and join our competition here: https://goo.gl/5LUfP2 .
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV