Water is an abundant resource in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), as the region concentrates 34 per cent of the world’s freshwater resources¹ and has less than 10 per cent of world’s total population. However, although the region has shown some success in providing basic access to drinking water and sanitation services, 12% of the rural population lacked basic water services in 2017² with inequalities between countries³. Closing these gaps and speeding up the progress for all SDG 6 targets and indicators is a challenge in the region.
The decision and policymakers need to act now to increase the likelihood of achieving SDG 6 by 2030. Nevertheless, evidence and appropriate data for policymakers and development actors to make this happen are still missing, overlapping or even fragmented in most countries in LAC. To address the challenge of policymaking under data-limited conditions, UNU-INWEH and partners – the UN Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD), the Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco), the Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea, and national partners from Ghana, Tunisia, Pakistan and Costa Rica – developed the SDG 6 Policy Support System (SDG-PSS), a free online tool that helps countries producing evidence on SDG 6 under data-limited conditions to support national water-related policy and decision processes. The aim of the SDG-PSS is to show strengths and weaknesses, where evidence is missing, gaps and opportunities across all SDG 6 targets and indicators and to provide professionals from different sectors, agencies and institutions with a framework where they can work together towards SDG 6 success.
In the current phase of the project, partners aim to extend the use of SDG-PSS to the UN Member States in different regions of the world. For this, UNU-INWEH and partners organized the workshop “Using SDG 6 Policy Support System (SDG-PSS) to facilitate countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for water-related sustainable development” in San José, Costa Rica on 4-5 March 2020. Water professionals and experts from different countries in LAC discussed challenges and opportunities for achieving SDG 6 in the region and how the SDG-PSS can be used to produce critical evidence for SDG 6.
Among the takeaways of the workshop, participants agreed that building regional cooperation is critical to succeeding in the quest for producing better data and evidence that can inform national water-related policy and decision processes. Although countries in the region present a rich diversity of capacity, opportunities and challenges, the SDG-PSS offers a common framework where key actors in a country can work together. Countries that are now engaging in the implementation and use of SDG-PSS can also rely on Costa Rica – a regional hub country – for support and knowledge exchange around SDG-PSS. The participants also associated the tool to ‘modern-thinking’ approaches in using data to generate evidence for SDG 6 and highlighted the importance of nominating a national focal point to oversee the implementation of the tool.
The SDG Project workshop welcomed participants from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and the host country, Costa Rica, along with representatives from UN organizations (UNU-INWEH, UNDP, ECLAC).
The SDG-PSS is a user-friendly free system available online in English, French, and Spanish. A free online course is also available to provide training for systematic use of the tool. The SDG-PSS online course can be accessed through this link.
¹ UN (United Nations). 2018. Sustainable Development Goal 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation. New York: UN.
² United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO). 2019. Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017. Special focus on inequalities. New York: WHO and UNICEF.
³ Nicolai, S., Bhatkal, T., Hoy, C., and Aedy, T. (2016) Projecting progress: the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean. London: Overseas Development Institute.