3 December 2018

#SDGsinAcademia: SDG Hub for Goal 6

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) carried out by the United Nations, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) series #SDGSinAcademia profiles the new SDG Hubs for each one of the Goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

3 December  2018 - This week our #SDGsinAcademia series features the University of Manitoba (Canada), a member institution of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), that has been chosen as the SDG Hub for Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

About the Hub:

The University of Manitoba is home to a community of more than 29,000 students, 5,000 academic staff and 3,900 support staff. Recognized as Western Canada's first university and located in the city of Winnipeg, the university recognizes the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada and ranks among the country’s  most research-intensive universities.

Providing high-quality liberal arts, science and professional programs of study, the University inspires undergraduate and graduate students to positively impact their communities as globally-engaged citizens. The university is committed to ongoing efforts to promote institutional sustainability and the pursuit of the principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

What is this Hub doing about Goal 6?

The University of Manitoba  is doing interdisciplinary research on water systems to help build sustainable, resilient communities locally in the province of Manitoba and in Canada. University researchers examine three main areas related to water systems sustainability: economic, social or equity-based and environmental; each one with unique perspectives, along with key overlaps.

The University’s expertise in the management of water quantity and quality at the regional, watershed, and farm level is contributing to the long-term sustainability of land, rivers, and lakes. Researchers are generating new knowledge and technology critical to the province of Manitoba’s agricultural, energy and fishing sectors, community development and sensitive ecosystems with the support of government and industry.

By participating in national climate networks, water researchers contribute to the physical understanding and modelling of the water cycle and extreme weather at various scales of time and space. This higher resolution climate modelling, coupled with expertise in water management systems at farm and watershed levels, will reduce vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events through the generation of novel technologies.

Such technologies mitigate flood risks, drought conditions and acute water pollution problems. Sustainable water management practices draw on research addressing the interface of land and water, river ice engineering, turbulence, fluid movement and dynamics, building design as well as the hydrologic, biological and atmospheric sciences. The university combines technical expertise in water and wastewater expertise with Indigenous knowledge.

In this manner, growing needs of remote and aboriginal communities are properly addressed. On the other hand, poor management of waterways and water quality can result in salinization of agricultural lands, algae blooms in lakes and flooding in urban areas, the adverse effects of which university researchers continue to study.  

The provincial government, the university and other stakeholders are working towards an effective long-term integrated watershed management plan that reflects the province’s diverse landscape in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable watershed community. The university replaced outdated, seldom used water fountains on campus with bottle fillers with automatic sensors to  lead by example and to promote universal access to potable water.

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The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 reviews progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has an overview that presents highlights of progress and remaining gaps for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the latest available data, and examines some of the interconnections across Goals and targets.

This is the overview provided in the Report about Goal 6:

Too many people still lack access to safely managed water supplies and sanitation facilities. Water scarcity, flooding and lack of proper wastewater management also hinder social and economic development. Increasing water efficiency and improving water management are critical to balancing the competing and growing water demands from various sectors and users.

  • In 2015, 29 per cent of the global population lacked safely managed drinking water supplies, and 61 per cent were without safely managed sanitation services. In 2015, 892 million people continued to practise open defecation.
  • In 2015, only 27 per cent of the population in LDCs had basic handwashing facilities.
  • Preliminary estimates from household data of 79 mostly high- and high-middle-income countries (excluding much of Africa and Asia) suggest that 59 per cent of all domestic wastewater is safely treated.
  • In 22 countries, mostly in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region and in the Central and Southern Asia region, the water stress level is above 70 per cent, indicating the strong probability of future water scarcity. fIn 2017–2018, 157 countries reported average implementation of integrated water resources management of 48 per cent.
  • Based on data from 62 out of 153 countries sharing transboundary waters, the average percentage of national transboundary basins covered by an operational arrangement was only 59 per cent in 2017.

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The following resources provide general information about the SDGs:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide from the UN Library in Geneva listing resources 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, geographical regions and by authors, to facilitate searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.
  • This selection of tools is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.
  • This guide, entitled “Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals”, is intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.
  • SDSN also developed this guide, entitled “Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities”, to help universities, institutions of higher education and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs by providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.

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You can learn more about the SDG Hubs at the UNAI website.  

Is your institution a member of UNAI and conducting activities and initiatives around Goal 6? Contact us at academicimpact@un.org to tell us about your work and let us connect your university with the SDG Hub! Working together we can make the 2030 Agenda a reality!