Single Project

Water-Related Sustainable Development Goals


The Challenge
Water is inextricably linked to the development of all societies and nations. At the same time, unsustainable development can place pressure on water resources. For example, around 663 million people in the world still do not have access to an improved source of drinking water; and, over the period to 2050, the world’s water will have to support agricultural systems that will feed an additional 2.7 billion people.

The Solution
In 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 SDGs that cover an ambitious global agenda: from ending poverty to regaining peace and stability, while leaving no-one behind. SDG 6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. SDG 6 does not only have strong linkages to most of the other SDGs, it also underpins them; meeting SDG 6 would go a long way towards achieving much of the 2030 Agenda.

Initiative 1: 2016-2018, “Water in the World We Want”
It is internationally recognised in the water sector that there is an urgent need to provide policymakers with evidence that can enable effective planning, decision-making and prioritisation. Two major challenges often hinder this process: a lack of reliable, integrated data, and a lack of mechanisms that can transform data into useable evidence that is fit-for-policy and that can directly support decision making. From 2016 to 2018, “Water in the World We Want” focuses on leveraging and translating data that do exist, in order to promote evidence-based policy making which can, in the longer term, enhance water-related SDG progress. Evidence-based policy making is an approach that informs the policy process: it does not aim to directly affect the goals or aims of the policy. It advocates a more rational, rigorous and systematic approach. Evidence-based policy making is promoted internationally because policy which is based on systematic evidence is seen to produce better outcomes – policy that tackles causes, not symptoms. Water in the World We Want aims to leverage the power of evidence to create an improved policy environment that allows the acceleration of systematic, measurable and informed SDG action around water.

With the first initiative of the project titled “Water in the World We Want”, the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), the Korea Environment Corporation (KECO), the Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea (MOE) and the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) aim to accelerate the adoption and achievement of water-related SDGs at the national level.

In 2016, the project engaged with Champions in Ghana, Costa Rica, Tunisia and Pakistan. In this phase, one key objective is to trial an SDG Policy Support System that enable national governments to leverage existing and emerging national and international data, monitoring and evaluation initiatives to automatically build robust and dynamic evidence that is fit-for-policy making and planning around SDG 6. There are six policy-critical components of the SDG PSS: Finance, capacity assessment, policy & institutional assessment, gender mainstreaming, disaster risk reduction/resilience mainstreaming, and transparency.

The anticipated final impact of the project is more comprehensive and effective evidence-based policy- and decision-making at national levels on water-related Sustainable Development Goals, which can lead to accelerated SDG success.


The pilot phase of “Water in the World We Want” was run in 2014 and 2015.
Initiative 1 of “Water in the World We Want”, as described above, began in 2016 and will run until 2018.
Further initiatives are being launched in 2017.

Geographical Focus



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Any interested agency or country that is interested in trialing the SDG Policy Support System is encouraged to contact UNU-INWEH at