Regional dialogues inform about challenges and opportunities for SDG 6 implementation around the world

Aerial view of misty rainforest lakes in shape of world continents in dense jungle vegetation in beautiful late evening light.
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How do private water operators in Chile deal with increasing climate variability and need for investment? What can Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific do to meet increasing insecurity in the sanitation sector? How can African states cooperate to manage transboundary waters?

Every region in the world faces unique water and sanitation challenges, but they also have something in common: they are not on track to meet SDG 6 by 2030. The “Water Dialogues for Results” held four Regional Fora from March to May 2021, with the aim to understand what the specific regional needs for an accelerated cross-sectoral implementation of SDG 6 are. The invited experts highlighted not only the areas that need urgent action, but also opportunities to create synergies and profit from positive experiences.  

The European Regional Forum – UNECE side event

On 11 March 2021, the regional dialogue for Europe has been held in form of a side event at the 2021 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regional Forum on Sustainable Development. Next to the Ambassador of the German Deputy Permanent Representative, speakers from the Republic of Slovenia, UNECE, UN-Water as well as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) discussed the current state of implementation of SDG 6 in Europe and what governments and other stakeholders can contribute to make quicker progress.

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The Asia and the Pacific Forum – ADFSD side event

The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (​APFSD), hosted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), took place this March and focused on sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. The German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Commonwealth of Australia, Singapore’s National Water Agency (PUB), the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of Tajikistan, all members of the steering committee, organised a side event on 23 March 2021. Therein, regional experts debated trends and challenges for water and sanitation in the region. A panel discussion fostered the dialogue about the draft policy recommendations of the Water Dialogues for Results from the perspective of the Asia and the Pacific region.

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The Latin American and the Caribbean Forum

The Regional Forum in Latin America and the Caribbean took place on 29 April as a stand-alone event, co-organised by the BMU, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) of Mexico. Next to inspiring keynote speakers of the co-hosting organisations and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, best practice examples from Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile and Spain shed light on the innovative approaches to manage water resources. More than 600 participants from all over the world followed the livestream of this event.

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The Regional Forum for Africa

On 26 May 2021, the BMU, the Republic of Senegal, the Republic of South Africa and the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) co-hosted the Regional Forum for Africa as part of the Water Dialogues for Results. After setting the scene by outlining the prospects and challenges of meeting SDG 6 in the region, experts presented on-the-ground examples of sustainable water management and cooperation from Uganda, the Senegal River Basin and South Africa. The session’s climax was a Call to Action to African governments by Senegal, South Africa and AMCOW highlighting the urgency for political commitment and immediate action on the way towards 2023.

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Click to view the recording of the session

Click here to view Call to Action

Way forward

The regional dialogues touched ground with the water- and sanitation related needs, priorities and challenges that manifest in different regions of the world. The impulses taken from the discussions influenced the policy recommendations formulated under the Water Dialogues for Results. A Regional Dialogue for the Middle East and North Africa as well as a second session for the Asia-Pacific regionare envisaged for late summer to address the way forward for SDG 6 implementation after the Bonn 2021 High-Level Conference.