Single Project

Water-Related Sustainable Development Goals


The Challenge
Water is inextricably linked to the development of all nations. But, unsustainable development is placing pressure on water resources: by 2030, global demand for water is expected to increase by 50%. Meanwhile, agriculture (which currently consumes around 70% of global water usage) is expected to experience a 70% increase in demand by 2050.

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 – the ‘water goal’ – is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. SDG 6 does not only aim for sustainable water management across the globe, it also underpins many other SDGs; meeting SDG 6 would go a long way towards achieving much of the 2030 Agenda.

However, in 2017, many countries are struggling to plan, resource and implement action under SDG 6. If the water goal is to meet its targets by 2020 and 2030, innovative solutions are urgently needed.

The Solution
The aim of this project is to provide tools, processes, and support for UN Member State governments to accelerate progress against SDG 6. The project integrates 3 Results Areas to support this:

  1. Evidence, based on rigorous data, is the lifeblood of decision-making, but much existing water and sanitation data remain unused -because they are not accessible, not of high quality, not well harmonized, or not available at the scale or in the form required. Results Area 1 is trialling the SDG Policy Support System in five countries (Costa Rica, Ghana, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, and Tunisia), collating existing national data and automatically translating them into evidence that can evaluate 6 critical components of sustainable SDG implementation: capacity, finance, policy & institutional strength, gender mainstreaming, risk reduction and resilience, and integrity. Easily referenced summaries will show decision-makers key gaps and strengths, and help them to accelerate SDG 6 implementation. In 2018, the system will be freely available online in English, French, Korean and Spanish.
  2. To help national governments improve SDG planning and policy, Results Area 2 will conduct a comparative analysis of the development of water-related SDG policies in five countries over the first two years of the 2030 Agenda.
  3. The key product of Results Area 3 will be an extension of the SDG Policy Support System beyond SDG 6 to the goals and targets of other water-related agreements. Additional products will include policy briefs and recommendations to advise and support national-level policy.

Results Area 1 is jointly led by 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).

In 2017, champions from 10 research and government institutions in Ghana, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Pakistan and Republic of Korea led Results Area 1 and the trial of the SDG Policy Support System through 2017.

The trial SDG PSS is currently available online, and free for use, in English, French and Spanish. When trials have been completed, the full version of the SDG PSS will be freely available online for use in French, Spanish, English and Korean.


The pilot phase was run in 2014 and 2015.
Results Area 1 of “Water in the World We Want”, as described above, began in 2016 and will run until 2018.
Results Areas 2 and 3 were launched in late 2017.

Geographical Focus





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