Safe drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights. Access to fresh water is essential to achieving many dimensions of sustainable development, including food security, health, and poverty reduction, and is integral to social and economic prosperity.

Population growth, agricultural mismanagement, urbanization and industrialization are causing environmental crises that impact the ability of hundreds of millions of people around the world to access clean and fresh water. Integrated water resource management systems at community, national and transnational levels is key to achieving sustainable development, and yet in 2017-2018, countries reported an average implementation of integrated water resource management of just 48 per cent. Mainstreaming water and sanitation into policies in all sectors is essential if we are to meet the demands of the present – and of the future.

Access To Basic Sanitation & Facilities

Over one billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. In 2015, 844 million people still lacked even a basic level of water sanitation service for drinking purposes, while another 1.3 billion people (17 per cent of the total global population) had to travel up to 30 minutes one-way to access safe drinking water. People without access live predominantly in rural areas, and lack of access to water compounds with other development issues such as lack of access to education and healthcare.

Achieving universal access to basic sanitation and ending the unsafe practice of open defecation will require substantial acceleration of progress in rural areas of Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. While the rates of open defecation have gone down overall, some regions have actually seen an increase since 2000.

Water Stability in Areas of Conflict

Conflict, violence and instability can derail progress towards universal access to basic water and sanitation services. In 2015, approximately 484 million people worldwide lived in fragile situations. Of these, 284 million people lacked basic sanitation services and 183 million lacked basic drinking water services. Living in fragile states make it twice as likely for people to lack basic sanitation, and four times as likely to lack basic drinking water services as people living in stable regions.

Untreated Wastewater

Failing to achieve Goal 6 does not affect only developing countries. Untreated wastewater from households degrades overall water quality, can contaminate drinking water sources, pose a risk to public health and limit the safe and productive reuse of water. Data from mostly high- and high-middle-income countries (excluding much of Africa and Asia) show that less than 50 per cent of all household wastewater flows are safely treated, producing huge health risks.

Water Stress & Future Water Scarcity

More than a quarter of the world’s population live in countries with excess water stress, defined as the ratio of total freshwater withdrawn to total renewable freshwater resources above a threshold of 25 per cent. Northern Africa and Western Asia experience extremely high water stress levels above 60 per cent, which implies a strong probability of future water scarcity. In 2012, 65 per cent of the 130 countries that responded to a survey on integrated water resources management reported that management plans were in place at the national level, however the effectiveness of these plans varied widely.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) for the water sector has been rising steadily, but has remained relatively constant as a proportion of total ODA disbursements, at approximately 5 per cent since 2005. In 2015, ODA disbursements in the water sector totaled about $8.6 billion, which represents an increase of 67 per cent in real terms since 2005. In order to achieve the 2030 targets, more investment into clean water and sanitation is needed.


Global Factors Affecting Access & Sanitation

Why do some people have access to clean water while others don’t? Why are millions of people still lacking access to a toilet and clean washing facilities? Is this problem only in developing countries, or does it also persist in the developed world? Water and Sanitation Expert Leanne Burney from UN DESA answers all these questions on Goal #6.

Drought-Striken Areas & Children

Over 2.4 million children in Somalia desperately need clean drinking water. Their lives depend on it.  And yet, in drought-stricken areas, children sometimes need to walk up to 50kms in order to find any water, and frequently it is full of dangerous bacteria that can cause illness and death.

New Smart Water Technologies

Information and communication technologies accelerate progress towards each SDG.  Smart water technologies and humidity and soil moisture sensors can help farmers in water-sensitive areas to manage their crops better and end the wastage of precious water supplies.


Competing demands for clean, fresh water, exacerbated by the effects of the climate  crisis will put even more pressure on water quality and access, and will create increasing risk for the private sector, governments, communities and the environment.

Business can adopt water stewardship strategies that address the many dimensions of water and water management, addressing the economic, environmental and social impacts of water management. By committing to new policies and adopting new values that aim to enable the long-term availability of clean water for all, the private sector can become governance leaders while addressing the risks and contributing to sustainable development. make a positive contribution to improved water and sanitation management and governance that addresses their risks while contributing to sustainable development.

GRI, UNGC Release 'Practical Guide' for Companies to Report Their Impact on the SDGs

Many companies already act and report on climate change, water management and labor conditions. This guide can help companies take stock of their current actions and discover additional priorities to contribute to achieving the SDGs (read more).

KPMG: How to Report on the SDGs & Global Goals

4 in 10 of the world’s largest companies already reference the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their corporate reporting, suggesting that business interest in the SDGs has grown quickly since their launch in September 2015 (read more).

Project Breakthrough: Growing The Businesses of Tomorrow

If we are going to achieve a sustainable future, as outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the role of business will be critical. In fact, if viewed in the right way, achieving the SDGs presents huge market opportunities for businesses (read more).


1) Media Package

  1. Program Photographs & Illustrations (Max. 10 Images)
  2. Detailed Project Description (Max. 500 Words)
  3. Optional: URL/Link to Supporting Video

2) Financial & Strategic

In order to determine financial performance & potential for scalability, please answer the following questions:

  1. Please describe how the SDG business initiative is linked to your company’s core competency/competencies.
  2. Please provide an overview of the business case associated with your SDG business initiative.
  3. Please provide evidence of planned program expansion over the coming quarters and/or fiscal years.

3) Magnetism & Inspiration

How has your business initiative been a source of magnetism and inspiration? Please provide examples of your company’s  influence on each of the following:

  1. Industry Impact
  2. Corporate Culture
  3. Key Stakeholder Groups

SDG #6 - Clean Water & Sanitation - The Global SDG Awards

4) SDG Impact Metrics

What progress has your organization made towards achieving SDG #6? Please select and provide one (or more) supporting metrics to help evaluate your social and environmental impacts (see below for a list of possible options to select from).

Please describe how has your company has:

  • Increased or improved the number of water bodies with good ambient water quality, or the extent of water-related ecosystems over time.
  • Increased access to safely managed drinking water services and/or access to sanitation facilities at home or public areas for a target population (by % and total #).
  • Enabled your company, suppliers, or clients to reduce water consumption (by % and total L).
  • Enabled your company, suppliers, or clients to significantly reduce the total number and total volume of toxic and/or hazardous spills (by % and total L).
  • Other KPI (please insert and describe).


OPTIONAL: Please provide a description/overview of 3rd party assurances relating to the verification of the metrics and figures provided above.


SDG #1 - No Poverty - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #2 - Zero Hunger - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #3 - Good Health & Well-Being - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #4 - Quality Education - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #5 - Gender Equality - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #6 - Clean Water & Sanitation - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #7 - Affordable & Clean Energy - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #8 - Decent Work & Economic Growth - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #9 - Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #10 - Reduced Inequalities - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #11 - Sustainable Cities & Communities - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #12 - Responsible Consumption & Production - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #13 - Climate Action - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #14 - Life Below Water - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #15 - Life On Land - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #16 - Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions - The Global SDG Awards
SDG #17 - Partnerships For The Goals - The Global SDG Awards