The future of water and sanitation: global challenges and the need for greater ambition

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Water and sanitation services are critical for public health. The importance of these services is reflected in SDG 6 and targets 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3. Much progress remains to be made to achieve these targets, but it is already becoming clear that greater ambition is needed. This paper looks at three global challenges: the need to increase the level of service to protect public health; the role of sanitation in combatting anti-microbial resistance; and the urgent need to build more climate resilient services. The SDG 6 targets should be upgraded to focus on universal access to piped water on premises, to incorporate action on anti-microbial resistance in definitions of safe sanitation and to embed actions to improve resilience. This requires a shift in thinking in the sector, away from relying on households and communities to manage their services to properly funded, professional services staffed by trained technical, managerial and finance staff. This will require more public finance and better use of financial instruments that have proved effective in other sectors. Increasing our ambition will mean the world can achieve the aim of universal access to safe, sustainable, and resilient services and protect public health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-448
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Water Supply: Research and Technology - AQUA
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author

Structured keywords

  • Water and Environmental Engineering


  • anti-microbial resistance
  • climate resilience
  • human resources
  • sanitation
  • SDG 6
  • water supply


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