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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Sanitation and Water for All Requires All of Us

March 11, 2016

Originally posted on the Sanitation and Water for All website

Delivering sanitation and water for all is no small feat. Over a third of the world’s population lack access to adequate sanitation, nearly 800 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and changing behaviors around poor hygiene practices and open defecation is notoriously difficult. And yet, the global community has committed to ensuring access to sanitation and water in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is the context in which the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership (SWA) is convening the Ministerial Meeting.

We know that as we shift our focus from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the new SDGs, we must also modify our strategies and update our approaches. These new goals beget new ways of thinking, acting, and engaging. To this end, the SWA Ministerial Meeting provides an opportunity for governments, civil society, and the private sector to establish how best we can collaborate to achieve the audacious targets outlined within Goal 6.

While the SWA Partnership has played an important role in advancing water and sanitation in the past, the future of the SWA Partnership in the SDG era is particularly exciting. Since the inception of the MDGs in 2000, our knowledge about what must be done to improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene has changed. The new SDGs and this Ministerial Meeting allow us, as a sector, to explore where we have been, to identify key best practices, and to articulate the way forward.

Success in meeting the challenge put forth by the SDGs will only be realized if we work together. Governments cannot afford the costs associated with the SDGs; the private sector cannot create the necessary enabling environments; and civil society cannot solely be responsible for implementation. Smart, focused partnerships in which stakeholders contribute their areas of expertise are essential. We must harness our synergies if we hope to truly meet Goal 6.

As a member of the SWA private sector working group, and the director of a public-private partnership, I am energized by the potential impact that we can have on ensuring access to sanitation and water for all. I believe that this Ministerial Meeting is a step in the right direction and will establish a foundation for future success. There will certainly be hurdles, but I am confident that by working together we can overcome any obstacle in our way. And we must, because the millions of people who lack access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene depend on it.

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