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The Global Handwashing Partnership

An ambitious agenda, a bold vision: Hygiene in the Sustainable Development Goals

August 3, 2015

“In these Goals and targets, we are setting out a supremely ambitious and transformational vision. We envisage a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive…A world where we reaffirm our commitments regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and where there is improved hygiene…”

With these words, written in the sustainable development agenda, the Member States of the United Nations set forth a vision of global development that includes water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as essential components of sustainable development. Within this agenda, hygiene is not only included in the vision statement, but also as a target within Goal 6, the so-called Water Goal.

We are thrilled that the United Nations is officially recognizing the fundamental role that WASH plays in improving health, nutrition, education, and equity. And, we applaud the call to ensure “access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all” by 2030.2015-Time-for-Global-Action_En

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and agenda will be formally agreed upon in September. This is a major step in the right direction; however, our work is not yet finished. The vision of a world with improved hygiene for all can only become a reality if hygiene is measured. We must not only know the baseline from which we are starting, but we must also have the ability to identify if hygiene improvement is in fact occurring. Governments must be held accountable for fulfilling their role in actualizing this vision. An indicator for hygiene is the only way we can ensure that we are successful in achieving our goal of hygiene for all.

Over 100 organizations have co-signed a letter calling for a hygiene indicator in the SDGs and citizens from 45 countries around the world have added their names to a petition with the same request. The continued support of those who care about hygiene will be essential in the next few months, so if you haven’t yet supported these petitions, please do so today. Or, download our advocacy toolkit to advocate for hygiene amongst your own government.

Our collaboration has helped to guarantee that hygiene is included in the SDGs as a target. We celebrate this great achievement, but we must now ensure that this target is not simply rhetoric. Please join us in the fight for a healthier, more productive, and more equitable world and continue to raise a hand for hygiene.

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