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World Water Day: New online tool helps countries achieve clean water goal

Today, March 22nd, is World Water Day, and it serves as an important reminder of how many people on Earth do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. The United Nations (UN) first launched World Water Day in 1993, and now say that as many as 2.1 billion people do not have safe water in their home.

But now, a new online tool has been created by UN University to help countries develop effective plans to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The resource will guide nations through six steps to reach SDG 6: clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The SDG Policy Support System was designed to expose policy weaknesses so that workable strategies and action plans could be created. Extensive research into the elements needed for SDG-6 progress were used to build the system.

“Water problems constitute a crisis today in an increasing number of countries,” said UNU-INWEH Director Vladimir Smakhtin. “Around 1.5 to 2 billion people currently live in areas of physical water scarcity, where water resources are insufficient to meet water demands, at least during part of the year. Around half a billion people experience water scarcity year-round. And there has been more than 50% drop in globally available freshwater per capita since 1960.”

“Implementing SDG 6, the ‘water goal,’ brings immense development, economic and health benefits and can unlock long-term funding. All too often, however, faced with competing goals and limited budgets, water-related development falls behind other priorities, and yet water is arguably the development issue that touches the largest number of people.”

There is an online training tutorial of how to use the system, and it is free and available to everyone. The SDG Policy Support System will help professionals and policymakers use existing national data and translate it into the resource needed to assess and monitor progress toward SDG6.

“An effective, sustainable path to SDG 6 depends on the ability to assess strengths and weaknesses and track changes and progress for these components, and on the collaboration of all concerned government institutions, expert groups and civil society,” explained Manzoor Qadir.

“We hope that by sharing knowledge and training people in a proven system, more nations can effectively assess their situations and replace gaps and weaknesses with workable policies, frameworks and action plans,” said Dr. Jong-Soo Yoon. “This will ultimately contribute to reducing water scarcity and pollution, mitigating disasters, and halt the ongoing degradation of water-dependent ecosystems.”

The SDG Policy Support System was launched by UN University on World Water Day.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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