Experts have pointed to a growing momentum among politicians, finance and business leaders toward meeting the global water and sanitation development goals. However, many also warn that development finance is still woefully small, that silos persist among actors, and that not enough attention is being paid to reaching the poorest of the poor.
These were some of the main messages heard during last week’s Stockholm World Water Week, which saw more than 3,200 participants from 133 countries descend on the Swedish capital for six days of sessions and discussion centered around reaching the water and sanitation Sustainable Development Goals. How to access new sources of finance and how to spend existing flows more effectively was a prominent theme. The World Bank now estimates an additional $114 billion per year is needed in order to extend universal access to WASH beyond what was required for the Millennium Development Goals. But in 2014, development finance for water totaled just $18 billion per year.
Meeting WASH specific SDG targets by 2030 is a huge challenge. Currently the U.N estimates that 2.1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water, and 4.5 billion are without improved sanitation services. Furthermore, with population growth projections at their highest in water scarce areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, and increasing rates of urbanization, the challenge is set to get even harder in the coming years.
Here are five key takeaways and issues to watch.
1. The SDGs have ‘galvanized’ the WASH sector
2. But how much is being translated into practice?
3. Unlocking new financial flows for WASH
4. The most promising new developments are in urban sanitation
5. Waste management is an increasingly urgent problem