4 June 2018

#SDGsinAcademia: Goal 6

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals carried out by the United Nations, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is presenting a weekly series of articles on #SDGSinAcademia that highlights the importance of higher education in achieving the Goals. Featuring additional sources for use by faculty and students alike, this series is intended to inspire action on the SDGs and showcase activities and initiatives of UNAI member institutions.

4 June 2018 - This week we are featuring in our #SDGsinAcademia series Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all


  • 6.1 By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • 6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations 
  • 6.3 By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally  
  • 6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity 
  • 6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate 
  • 6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 
  • 6.A By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies 
  • 6.B Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management 

What are UNAI member institutions doing about Goal 6? Here are some examples:

The Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina), and in particular its College of Economic Sciences, has implemented the 'Econ Verde' programme, created amont other things, to ensure the control of water consumption and to promote actions that contribute to the care of the environment. The programme, involving faculty, staff and students, aims also to create awareness on the impact of personal choices on sustainable development.

Logos University (Brazil) promoted a research about per capita consumption of water in Brazil considering data about the use of water in food production, agriculture and common home tasks. The results showed the need for greater awareness on the proper use of water resources and encouraged students to devise structures to collect rainwater and to reuse water at home. 

Lehigh University (United States) co-organized in collaboration with the AAUW, UNEP and UNAI, the Students Seeking Solutions Conference: SDG 6 Challenge that took place on 20 April 2018 at UN Headquarters. Students from around the world presented their ideas on how to solve the clean water crisis. The proposals included clear, defined and tangible solutions to help purify or facilitate access to clean water. 

Southern Illinois University (United States) held on 18 April 2018 the event 'Water for the World' to educate the campus and surrounding community about the future of water. Research on this issue was shown, students from a local high school performed readings from the book 'A Long Walk to Water', a project for installing wells in Africa was showcased and children's activities related to water took place. 

The University of Manitoba (Canada) through its Cente for Human Rights Research is carrying out projects on clean water and water and sanitation security taking into account the particularities of the 'First Nations' -the indigenous peoples in Canada-. Symposiums with the leadership of indigenous communities have taken place and several articles have been published in well known peer reviewed journals.

The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain) organizes every year since 2015 aiming to improve access to services such as clean water the International Award for Appropriate Technologies, which seeks to provide support and promote innovative technological proposals. In the most recent editions of the competition, renewable water solutions have been proposed through projects in Nicaragua and Haiti. 

The University of Maribor (Slovenia) faculty has been conducting academic research on 'water crimes' -an emerging global issue including crimes such as pilfering of water from pipelines, water theft, manipulation of sampling methods to avoid treatment costs, fraud and illegal trafficking of water, terrorism and cyber-attacks on water management operations and illegal waste discharges from factories.

New Giza University (Egypt) celebrated World Water Day with an extensive campaign that took place in social media showcasing easy ways to conserve water at home. In that line, an on-campus campaign was initiated to sell re-usable water bottles and having the proceeds go to a local non governmental organization that helps delivering clean water to under-privileged villages and towns in Egypt.

Al Farabi Kazakh National University (Kazakhstan) is now taking part and promoting the UI GreenMetric World Ranking which aims to promote sustainable campuses. Water use is one of the indicators and it is expected from all participant universities a decrease in water usage, the implementation of water conservation and water recycling programmes and the use of efficient water appliances.

Assam Don Bosco University (India) inaugurated a community managed water purification scheme. The School of Technology provides the technology for water purification to communities at the Dimoria Development Block of the state of Assam. Researchers have also developed an on-the-spot water contamination sensor that can assess if the amount of metal ions present in water is in the range safe for human consumption.

Here you can take a look to a selection of the Activity Reports submitted by UNAI member institutions.


The following resources can help improving your knowledge and understanding about Goal 6 in particular and the SDGs in general:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide made by the United Nations Library in Geneva listing resources about the SDGs in general and about each one of the Goals, including books and articles (some of which are fully available on line free of charge), UN documents such as resolutions and reports and additional resources.
  • The SDG Fund has created this online library featuring over 1,000 online publications. The publications are categorized by the Goals they represent, by geographical regions they relate to and by authors, to facilitate easy searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.
  • This is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers a selection of tools such as concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.
  • This is a guide entitled Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.
  • This guide entitled Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities also developed by the SDSN intends to help higher education institutions to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs highlighting the important role they have in implementing the SDGs through their teaching, research, operations and leadership, and providing practical guidance and examples.
  • This guide entitled Sustainable Development Goals - Human Response Alignments features the human element of change and the human response corresponding to each of the SDGs in order to quicken the global conversation about vital issues and to encourage the movement that supports the vision of the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals Explained: Clean Water and Sanitation

Sustainable Development Goals Explained: Clean Water and Sanitation
What makes it so difficult for some people to have access to water? Why are there millions of people in the world without access to a toilet? Does this issue only affect developing countries? Water and Sanitation Expert Leanne Burney from UN DESA answers all these questions on Goal #6.