Background Report for Expert Consultation on Water-related Sustainable Development Goals







Full text


Prepared by

United Nations Office for Sustainable Development

Incheon, Republic of Korea

United Nations University-

Institute for Water, Environment and Health

Hamilton, Canada

In collaboration with

Stockholm Environment Institute

Stockholm, Sweden


Background Report for

Expert Consultation on Water-related

Sustainable Development Goals



Water for Sustainability

Framing Water within the Post 2015 Development Agenda:

Options and Considerations

DRAFT for discussion at First Expert Consultation 13-14 June, Incheon, Korea





1.1 Purpose of report ... 5

1.2 Preparation of this report ... 5

1.3 Intended use and impact of this report ... 5


2.1 Context ... 7

2.1.1 Overview of post-2015 and SDG processes ... 7

2.1.2 The importance of water for development ... 8

2.1.3 Drivers of demand ... 11

2.1.4 Cross linkages of goals and targets between water and other sectors and themes ... 13

2.2 Status and trends on water under the MDGs ... 14

2.2.1 Drinking water, sanitation and hygiene ... 14

2.2.2 Water in relation to other MDGs (other than Goal 7) ... 15

2.3 Strengths and weakness of the MDGs ... 16

2.3.1 Lessons learned ... 20

2.4 Emerging principles on evolution of water from MDGs to post-2015/SDGs ... 23



3.1 Recent propositions on goals/targets/indicators on water ... 25

3.2 Assessment of propositions against emerging post-2015/SDG principles ... 38

3.3 An emerging cross-cluster framework ... 42



Expert Consultations ... 45

4.1 Clusters, Cross-Linkages and the Emerging Agenda ... 46

4.1.1 Cross-cluster analysis ... 47



4.2 Goalposts, Strong Foundations, Challenges and Opportunities ... 49

4.2.1 Framing a Needs Assessment ... 52

4.3Needs Assessment: A Water within Development Agenda ... 59

4.4 The Implementation Challenge ... 59

Monitoring and report of targets ... 60

Stakeholder engagement ... 60

Securing ownership of decisions ... 60

Engaging the member states and organizations within the UN ... 60

Non-traditional engagement mechanisms ... 60

Institutional mechanisms ... 60

Mobilizing financial resources ... 61

Capacity development ... 62

Policy implications ... 62

ANNEXES ... 63

References ... 63

Appendix I: Background Notes ... 63

Appendix II: Framework ... 63

Appendix III: Meeting Summary (Incheon) ... 63

Appendix IV: Meeting Summary (Hamilton) ... 63



AMCOW – African Ministers’ Council on Water

ASEAN – Association of South-East Asian Nations AWM – Agricultural Water Management

CbDR – Common but Differentiated Responsibility CSO – Civil Society Organization

EC – European Commission

ECOSOC – Economic and Social Council FDI – Foreign Direct Investment GDP – Gross Domestic Product

GLAAS – UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water

HLP – High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

IRF2015 – Independent Research Forum on a Post-2015 Development Agenda

IWRM – Integrated Water Resources Management JMP – Joint Monitoring Programme

JPOI – Johannesburg Plan of Implementation MDG – Millennium Development Goals MENA – Middle East and North Africa MIC – Middle Income Country

NEPAD – New Partnership for African Development NG&PRS – National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy ODA – Official Development Assistance

OECD – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

OIC – Organization of Islamic Cooperation

OWG – Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals

PCD – Policy Coherence for Development PPP – Public-Private Partnership PRSP – Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

RADWQ – Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality RBA – Rights Based Approach

SDG – Sustainable Development Goals

SDSN – Sustainable Development Solutions Network SEI – Stockholm Environment Institute

SWA – The Sanitation and Water for All Partnership UNDG – United Nations Development Group

UNECE – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNGA – United Nations General Assembly

UNOSD – United Nations Office for Sustainable Development UNTT – United Nations System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda

UNU – United Nations University WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene WfGD – Water for Growth and Development WHO – World Health Organization



1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose of report

As the timeframe of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws to a close in 2015, the global community is taking stock of how effectively it can chart pathways towards a sustainable future. To this end, member states at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) agreed to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The post-2015 processes are responding to a mandate from the 2010 UN General Assembly to set out the development agenda that will succeed the MDGs. While the MDGs focused primarily on developing economies, SDGs aim to develop a broader sustainability framework with a global outlook, and will focus on priority thematic areas for sustainable development, which will be subject to further negotiation under an inter-governmental working group. These thematic areas could potentially include energy, food security, water and sanitation, health, poverty alleviation, gender equality, climate change, green economy and biodiversity

protection.1 The SDG process aims to develop global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the General

Assembly in the second half of 2014.

Currently, a number of processes are running in parallel, and may yet converge into one common framework for development. While there is still strong emphasis on attaining the MDGs by 2015, the post-2015 processes are striving to review experience with the MDGs, including their strengths and weaknesses, in order that principles and lessons learned can be brought to bear upon the future, broader, development framework. Within this context, several propositions on water goals, targets and indicators emerged by early 2013 (see section 3.1).

The purpose of this report is to develop a framework within the post-2015/SDG arena that can support sustainability for water, and to undertake an assessment of what is needed to achieve this, based on current evidence. This effort will also be informed by comparison and evaluation of propositions on water in light of the emerging principles and lessons relevant to the post-2015 and SDG context. The propositions are gathered into three ‘clusters’ that encapsulate the principal directions that had emerged by early 2013. Based on this assessment, and recognising that other processes may yet advocate different directions for the future of water, this report focuses on the elements identified to be at the core of the future development framework as related to water. The needs assessment is used to support preliminary analysis of ways to implement actions that cross propositions.

1.2 Preparation of this report

This report is prepared jointly by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD)/United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the United Nations University (UNU), with support from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Initial analyses focus on the taking stock of context, experience and emerging principles of water within the post-2015 and SDG context, leading to an assessment framework that is informed by ‘current thinking’. That assessment framework has been applied to three clusters of propositions that capture the main formulations of water goals, targets and indicators that had emerged by early 2013. These main formulations have been used as the basis for a needs assessment. These needs, and associated evidence for capacity to meet these needs, were presented to representative stakeholders for peer review and guidance at a meeting in Incheon in June 2013. At this meeting a draft report was discussed to validate the methods applied, identify and respond to potential gaps of the study, validate the emerging findings and recommendations, and discuss their implications.

1.3 Intended use and impact of this report

This report is written for representatives of UN Member States, UN Water, the

UN Task Team and the Open

Working Group of UNGA as well as others involved in the post-2015/SDG processes. It is not a formally

mandated report; rather it is an independent evidence-based analysis of how a water secure world might be achieved beyond 2015. The purpose is fourfold: i) to help inform global goals that are being established for beyond 2015, and to support informed decision-making by governments; ii) to understand the type of water investments



required after 2015; iii) to demonstrate points of convergence and divergence between different water perspectives beyond 2015; and iv) to provide an overarching framework that can be used to understand water goals and targets, and needs for environmental integrity, human development and economic growth beyond 2015. It forecasts what might be needed in terms of financial investment, governance and capacity, and examines what these needs imply for interim targets and indicators. We anticipate that this analysis will be useful for assessing options to addressing water in a new development agenda as well as providing a methodology that can be applied to other propositions not analysed here, including propositions within other thematic areas.



2. Taking Stock

This chapter summarizes the context of post-2015 and SDG processes, as well as the emerging narrative on water and how water is linked to different development perspectives, other sectors and themes (see Section 2.1). It sets out the most recent status and trends on water under the MDGs, including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and water in relation to other MDGs (see Section 2.2). It also reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the MDGs as an overarching developmental process, and how water is framed within that process (see Section 2.3). The chapter concludes by setting out emerging principles – particularly on water – in the transition from the MDGs to SDGs (Section 2.4). In the process, it summarizes the evidence base for the assessment framework that is presented in Chapter 3.

2.1 Context

2.1.1 Overview of post-2015 and SDG processes

As of March 2013 there remains some uncertainty over how successfully the post-2015 and SDG framework can converge, not least in terms of the process by which convergence may occur. Thus, this report has been prepared at a stage of introspection, dialogue and proposition, while the bigger picture still lacks some clarity. The key post-2015 and SDG processes, are described below (both in general terms and with specifically in relation to water), while others are summarized in Box 1.

a) High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The HLP was appointed by the UN-Secretary General, and is composed of 26 members. It is co-chaired by Indonesia, Liberia and United Kingdom, and includes representatives of national and local government, civil society, the private sector and academia. The HLP has a Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. The Panel will help to build political consensus on the vision for a post-2015 UN development agenda and will promote the engagement of all stakeholders in the post-2015 deliberations. The Panel will submit its report to the Secretary General with recommendations on the post-2015 development agenda at the end of May 2013.

b) Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals. The Open Working Group was established on 22 January, 2013 by decision 67/555 of the General Assembly, co-chaired by Hungary and Kenya. The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly, which means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries. The OWG is mandated to propose SDGs to the UN General Assembly at its 68th Session (2013–2014). Technical support to the OWG is provided by an inter-agency technical support team under the aegis of the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda (UNTT).

c) UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. Established by the UN Secretary-General in January 2012, and co-chaired by UNDP and UNDESA, the UNTT gathers over 60 UN agencies and international organizations to support both the HLP and the OWG. In 2012 the UNTT published its first report, Realising the Future We Want for All, which sets out a vision for the UN system post-2015. The UNTT is comprised of three sub-Groups: Global Partnerships, Data and Monitoring, and Technical Support Team on SDGs.

d) UN Development Group (UNDG). UNDG has set in place 50 (and possibly up to 100) national dialogues in association with civil society organisations and other international organizations. National dialogues, principally targeting low-income countries under a process informed by a guidance note, are being led by UN resident coordinators and UN country teams, part-funded by UNDG. Thematic consultations have been launched on 11 themes, including water and sanitation, each with co-leaders, contributors, a host and social media outreach. The water theme is led by UN-Water and has been tasked to propose a water related goal. Contributions to the theme are through a Task Force led by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN-Water Management Team, with the support of the Netherlands and Switzerland as ‘host governments’. Possible focus areas of the theme are: i) access to safe



drinking water, sustainable sanitation and hygiene (UNICEF), ii) wastewater and water quality (UN-Habitat), and iii) water resources management (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – UNECE).

e) The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, originally tasked to monitor progress related to MDG 7, target C (i.e. to “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation”) is serving as a platform for the development of proposals for SDG goals, targets and indicators. Four working groups have been operative since January 2012, namely on water, sanitation, hygiene, and equity/non-discrimination.

f)Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is a global network of research centres, universities and technical institutions, directed by Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the Secretary General on the MDGS. The SDSN operates in close coordination with the High Level Panel (see above).

Box 1. Other relevant consultative processes

 IRF2015 (the Independent Research Forum on a Post-2015 Development Agenda). See

 Friends of Water – an informal group chaired by Hungary, Finland, Thailand and Tajikistan, scheduling a 2013

Budapest Water Summit on ‘The Role of Water and Sanitation in the Global Sustainable Development Agenda.’  EC process/position, including public consultation and report. See:

 Post-2015 Forum

 Beyond 2015 Forum

 UK International Development Committee (significant given UK’s Co-Chair of High-Level Panel) UK International

Development Committee

 Japan informal ‘Contact Group’

 AMCOW (African Ministers’ Council on Water). See:

 UN Global Compact

2.1.2 The importance of water for development

Historically, a strong link has been demonstrated between water resources development and economic development that impacts upon social and environmental outcomes. There are abundant examples of how water has been a fundamental element in economic development and how that development has demanded increased usage of water. Consequently, different countries have different relationships with their water, depending on their stage and nature of development. This was for example highlighted in the Presidency Paper to the European Commission, The Role of Water in EU Development Policy, with differentiation building from well-established evidence.2




In all industrialized countries, early and large investments have already been made in water-related infrastructure (e.g. in reservoirs or hydropower – see Figures 2.1 and 2.2) and in the human capacity required to operate and maintain these investments. We regulate and manage the flows of almost all major rivers , and store water for multiple uses, for example to reduce peak flows, increase low flows and protect water quality in the service of urban jobs and employment, factories, energy and food. The risk of water-related disasters and resulting damage has been reduced, the reliability of water services for production has been increased and, negative impacts on human lives, such as the spread of disease, have been minimised. In most developed countries, water infrastructure is mature and is therefore a sound basis for economic and social development. The emphasis now is placed on water management and infrastructure operations to maximise returns on infrastructure investment, to respond to shifting societal priorities (e.g. where increasingly high values are placed on environmental assets) and to reduce environmental impacts from water infrastructure and impacts on water resources. The emerging evidence of climate change, extreme weather events and changes in flow patterns (as well as stated ambitions to achieve “good water quality”) drives innovation in water management. Nevertheless, past investments in institutions and hydraulic infrastructure that have harnessed hydrology have clearly been a pre-condition for the broad-based development and growth achieved in the developed world. Maintaining and replacing the installed, and ageing, infrastructure base is a burden on current and future generations. ‘Green economy’ opportunities might seek to introduce more efficient solutions that have less environmental impact, and in some cases even restore environmental assets that were lost during periods of rapid industrialization. Such measures could be financed by public investment from tax and (dis)incentives.

Figure 2.1. Reservoir storage per capita Figure 2.2. Hydropower development

Source: Grey and Sadoff (2007)3

In economies that are still in the phase of transition and industrialising, major investments have already been made in water infrastructure, but considerable opportunities still exist to create socio-economic benefits from further investments. In some of these countries (e.g. China and India), substantial investment in water have been made to promote growth (such as in hydropower and irrigation infrastructure), but those economies still remain


D. Grey and C. W. Sadoff (2007) “Sink or Swim? Water security for growth and development”, Water Policy vol. 9, pp. 545–571

“Water has always played a key role in economic development, and economic development

has always been accompanied by water development”



vulnerable to catastrophic impacts (e.g. caused by floods and droughts). In other cases (e.g. Eastern Europe and Central Asia), financing has been available to build infrastructure, but institutional and human capacity has been inadequate or has not sufficiently adapted to effectively manage water resources and new infrastructure. While it is generally accepted that countries initially place a premium on physical capital investments, human capacity and institutions can take much longer to build and adapt. Getting this balance right is crucial. The damage costs of environmental degradation related to water in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has been estimated to be of the order of US$ 9 billion per year, or 2.1–7.4% of the range of the MENA countries’ GDP.4 Southeast Asia faces similar environmental challenges following an expansion of irrigation during the Green Revolution, which saw over 60% of agricultural investments placed in irrigation. The region also faces the emerging challenge of using water more efficiently. Yet, through that agricultural revolution a rising urban population with jobs in intensive, urban manufacturing were fed, and, in turn (with a rising tax take and more money for household expenditure) drove improvements in basic services. Perhaps – arguably – the Green Revolution was a main driver behind the global attainment of the MDG drinking water target (though less so for the MDG target for sanitation). Major issues around water coverage, provision and equity often remain unresolved, especially when tax returns to governments are not reinvested into social improvements, when government tax recovery is limited, or when some parts of a population are marginalised within the political system.

In less developed economies (developing countries) the impacts of climate seasonality and variability, as well as rainfall extremes, are most striking. The capacity, institutions and infrastructure needed to manage and mitigate these key challenges remain inadequate. Catastrophic hydrological events such as droughts and floods can have dramatic social and economic impacts with tragic loss of life5 and declines in annual GDP often exceeding 10% – largely because water shortages are translated within economies to energy and food shortages, and to rising prices for citizens that have become dependent on buying food rather than producing it. In many of the world’s poorest countries there is high climate variability and limited water-related investment, leading to a strong correlation between rainfall variability and GDP performance. Where economic performance is closely linked to rainfall and water resources, growth has been ‘hostage to hydrology’.6 Where economic performance is low, neither governments nor households can afford to invest in basic services, because of competing development demands. Ironically, the need to deal with the impacts of a lack of basic services actually increases expenditures in other sectors and categories (e.g. higher costs of water from informal providers and increased health costs related to waterborne disease). Consequently, WASH goals have become reliant on donor-financing of basic services, including under MDG initiatives, albeit with some patchy progress made.

The biggest challenge in developing water resources management for many developing countries is putting in place the appropriate storage infrastructure and institutional platform that will serve growth and economic development and contribute to poverty reduction. Storage of water can take place in well-managed landscapes and in artificial water storage structures. Different regions give different messages on their priorities for water in for example the Regional Position Papers into the Istanbul 5th World Water Forum. In Africa, for example, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) viewed the growth rates needed to reduce poverty as being at least 7%. Yet, because many African economies are extremely vulnerable to hydrological variability, Africa loses up to 5% of GDP to poor coverage of water and sanitation, 2% to power outages, and between 5–25% to droughts and floods in affected countries, and risks a further 5% loss because of the future impacts of climate change. Only about 7% of Africa’s hydropower potential has been developed, and there is a growing gap between demand and supply in electrification. Similarly in other regions, e.g. in Aral Sea Basin countries, only about 8% of the regional hydropower potential has been developed but is now being explored, 7 In comparison, in the EU and US


World Water Assessment Programme (2009) Chapter 1. “Getting out of the box – linking water to decisions for sustainable development”. In the United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a changing world. Paris: UNESCO and London: Earthscan.

5 IFRC 2012 World Disasters Report, Africa Regional Position Paper, 5th World Water Forum, Istanbul 6

Adapted from the report "Water for Growth and Development" David Grey and Claudia W. Sadoff in Thematic Documents of the IV World Water Forum, 2006

7 Granit, J. et al (2012). ”Regional Options for Addressing the Water, Energy and Food Nexus in Central Asia and the Aral Sea Basin”.



approximately 50% of water withdrawn is used for electricity generation.8 Africa’s agricultural water management is woefully deficient, this being one of the main reasons why Africa has a food import bill of over US$17 billion ().9 Indeed, 90% of consumed water may be used by agriculture, but that represents 90% of 3% of water use in sub-Saharan Africa. Many water-scarce countries are increasingly dependent on freshwater resources in other countries and create a large external water footprint. While many northern, industrialised countries have relatively well-managed water resources, they have also enlarged their external (international) footprints of water consumption through increased trade (this is as high as 70% in the case of some European nations). Many countries in Asia are serviced by substantial water and sanitation infrastructure but access to basic services remains critical in some parts, especially South and Southeast Asia. The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific has identified that countries in this region experience up to a 50% reduction in water available for development relative to 1980 benchmark levels.10 Investments in water and sanitation infrastructure to meet increasing demands from rapid population growth and industrial development are key priorities, as well as reducing vulnerability to water-related disasters. Water-related disasters cause an estimated 2-20% loss in life and property, and 12-66% revenue loss, and also risk setting back any development efforts made.11 A plethora of institutions and legislations with overlapping mandates put constraints on water governance and management, and investment levels where far below those needed to meet the MDGs on drinking water and sanitation (as of 2009). Conservation and restoration of land-water interfaces are also key to improve water productivity, and as agriculture accounts for the majority of withdrawals in many South and Southeast Asian countries improvements in irrigations systems offer potential to free up water resources for development.12

2.1.3 Drivers of demand

The World Economic Forum (2011)13 has identified several significant global trends that will increase demand for food, energy and water in the coming decades. Among these are the following:

 Population growth and changing demographics: World population is expected to increase to 8 billion in

the next two decades, mostly in the developing world and mostly comprising a ‘youth bulge’.

 Economic growth: This will be driven largely by emerging markets, with estimates of 6% in developing countries in the medium-term and 2.5% in high-income countries (though growth in many northern countries is struggling to gain traction).

 Urbanization: Over half of the world’s population now live in an urban environment, and there are twenty-four mega-cities each with more than ten million people. Urban settlements are concentrations of GDP growth, concentrate demand for water supply and consumption (both domestic and industrial) and are the main source of point-source pollution, with concentrations of people being exposed to ill-functioning water systems and thus an increased exposure to water quantity and quality issues and water-borne diseases.

A growing, increasingly prosperous and rapidly urbanizing global population will demand more food, more energy and more water resources to meet its needs. Expected trends include:


Granit. J. & Lindström. A. (2011). Constraints and Opportunities in Meeting the Increasing Use of Water for Energy Production. In Proceedings of the ESF Strategic Workshop on Accounting for water scarcity and pollution in the rules of International trade. Amsterdam 25 – 26 November 2010. (Ed. Hoeckstra, A.Y., Aldaya, M.M., & Avril. B.) Value of Water Research Report Series No. 54. UNESCO-IHE.


AMCOW (2009) “Africa Regional Paper: Bridging divides in Africa’s Water Security: An Agenda to Implement Existing Political. Commitments.” 5th World Water Forum.


APWF (2009) Regional Document Asia-Pacific, 5th World Water Forum

11 APWF (2009) Regional Document Asia-Pacific, 5th World Water Forum

12APWF (2009) Regional Document Asia-Pacific, 5th World Water Forum




 Increased food demand and changing diets. This will occur a time when nearly one billion people suffer

hunger and malnutrition. Projections show that providing food supplies for a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require an overall increase in provision of “on-the-plate” food by some 70%

by 2050.14 Some of this demand can be met by reducing food (and thus water) wastage. Without reduced

wastage, food production in developing countries would need to almost double, with significant increases in the production of several key commodities, notably cereals and meat. Ninety percent of the growth in crop production globally (80% in developing countries) is expected to come from higher yields and increased cropping intensity, with the remainder coming from land expansion.15 The vast majority of that land expansion in developing countries would take place in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. While current irrigation is minimal in many sub-Saharan African countries – and water resource use for all purposes across the continent is less than 4%16 – the pressure on renewable water resources from irrigation would remain severe and could even increase slightly in several countries in the near east, North Africa and South Asia. However, the agricultural story is not only one of food production. It is also about how agriculture underpins poverty-reducing livelihoods and jobs and taxation, and many countries view agriculture as the best source of future growth. 17

 Increased demand and access to energy. Almost all of this increase will come from non-OECD countries as

greater numbers access electricity (forecasts suggest that the world economy will demand 40% more energy by 2030). Hydro-electricity is the key power source for the 26 sub-Saharan countries; only 7% of the hydropower potential is exploited in Africa, compared to 75% in Europe. If pursued to its full economic potential, regional trade could reduce the annual costs of developing and operating power systems in sub-Saharan Africa by 2 billion USD per year (about 5% of total power system costs). This would come largely from substituting hydropower for thermal power, which would substantially reduce operating costs. By increasing the share of hydropower, regional trade would save 70 million tons of carbon emissions a year. Under the Soviet Union’s arrangements for regional benefit sharing, water had not been a limiting factor for growth in Central Asia. However, water use is now being developed within a different regional framework with independent states promoting significant water development tracks and unilaterally putting more stress on the shared water resource. For example, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan constitute the water tower of the Aral Sea Basin countries. These countries are striving to develop their hydropower potential, given that only about 8% of the regional hydropower potential has

been developed.18

 In the absence of any change in consumption patterns, increased water use will lead to a projected shortfall of 40% between demand and supply by 2030.19 Interlinked natural resource pressures in the water, energy and food nexus, advanced by the Bonn 2011 Nexus Conference,20 opened up a global debate on the nexus, moving beyond current conventional thinking.

 Pressures on these resources will be compounded by climate change, in an uneven manner around the

world, and by the policy responses to climate adaptation and mitigation.21 But climate change is not necessarily the biggest driver of scarcity even in the most vulnerable regions of the world. Notwithstanding that North Africa and the Middle East is among the most vulnerable regions, the World Bank has estimated recently that future water shortage in the MENA region will be enormous in the next decades, with about 20% attributed to climate change but 80% to a steep increase in demand owing to

strong population growth and fast economic development.22


FAO (2009) “How to Feed the World in 2050”

15 FAO (2009) “Global agriculture towards 2050” 16

African Development Bank Group (2009) “Bridging Divides in Africa’s Water Security: An Agenda to Implement Existing Political Commitments” African Regional Position Paper - 5th World Water Forum (Istanbul)

17 DFID, 2005, “Growth and poverty reduction: the role of agriculture”

18 Granit, J. et al. (2012) ”Regional Options for Addressing the Water, Energy and Food Nexus in Central Asia and the Aral Sea Basin”

International Journal of Water Resources Development. Vol 28 No 3, 419-432, September 2012.


2030 Water Resources Group (2009) “Charting our Water Future. Economic frameworks to inform decision-making.”

20 Bonn2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus – Solutions for a Green Economy 21

World Economic Forum (2011) “Water Security – the Water, Food, Energy, Climate Nexus”




 New geopolitical dynamics. As suggested by the World Economic Forum, these dynamics may be triggered

by a scramble for resources, potentially coalescing around national interests and alliances, thereby bringing a retreat from multilateral globalization that risks throwing international organizations into question, and leaving global companies facing a baffling landscape.23

2.1.4 Cross linkages of goals and targets between water and other sectors and themes

Following their formulation, significant efforts were made to stress the links between the MDG targets on drinking water and sanitation – the only explicit MDG reference to water – to other goals and targets. By attaining targets on drinking water and sanitation, contributions were made to other MDG targets, for example on health and education. It has been argued that water-related MDGs are directly or indirectly relevant to achievement of each and every MDG (e.g. see Figure 2.3 and Annex 1). However, in the absence of any formal targets in the original Millennium Declaration, as well as the lack of any cross-linked monitoring mechanisms, actions for achieving multiple MDGs were largely absent.

Figure 2.3. Water supply and sanitation in the MDGs

Source: Modified from Mehta and Knapp (2004)24

Efforts were also made to connect Integrated Water Management (IWRM) to the full set of MDGs,25

demonstrating that the achievement of most of goals would have to be underpinned by water in one way or


World Economic Forum (2011) “Water Security – the Water, Food, Energy, Climate Nexus.”


Mehta and Knapp (2004) The Challenge of financing sanitation for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, paper Commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment for the 12th session of the CSD-12




another. Yet, water development and management never really developed strong connections to reducing hunger and household poverty, and was thus always the ‘poor cousin’ to drinking water and sanitation in the MDG context. There are probably many reasons for this, but one may be the fairly quick transition after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro away from Integrated Water Resources Management and Development to IWRM. Thus the co-emphasis on development was lost, and managing sectoral trade-offs and environmental protection was perhaps

over-emphasised ahead of resource development for people-centred outcomes. Indeed, AMCOW stated that26:

“The concept of IWRM … was developed into the concept of Water for Growth and Development. This concept responds more effectively to the African context and, most critically, recognises that water cannot be dealt with in isolation, but requires a high degree of collaboration… The concept of WfGD also allows for a better interfacing of water resources and water services issues and a strong focus on how both support growth and development, while IWRM is much more strongly focused on the resources aspects of water management.

Since the formulation of the MDGs, the political and economic landscape has changed. While values and principles of the Millennium Declaration are probably just as relevant, the Millennium Declaration has been judged as an outdated basis for a new development agenda. This time around there is no single agreed text that the

development agenda can draw on.27 Several reports, including the outcome of the Busan High Level Forum on Aid

Effectiveness, have acknowledged that growth in emerging economies has become the key driver of global growth, that inequalities have increased within and between developing countries, and that the development architecture

is becoming more complex than donor/recipient relations.28 For example, many emerging economies are no longer

eligible under traditional ODA and have become aid donors themselves, and developed countries have become increasingly dependent on capital from developing countries.29 Changes in the climate, population dynamics and power balances are also altering the political and economic landscape.

As already outlined, water is interlinked with all aspects of social and economic development – energy, food production, health and the environment.30 But it is interlinked in different ways in countries at different stages of their economic development. Water is therefore affected by contextual changes as entities determine the use and allocation of the resource, and water is also an enabler for such changes. These linkages have not always been fully acknowledged by the prevailing framework. One example is the debate on human needs for water (not only in terms of WASH, but also in terms of other basic needs, including food, energy etc.), which range from 20 litres per person to 100 litres per person each day, and the needs of the environment, which can result in an overly simplistic separation of development versus environment. Current trends show that the system is out of balance, and that increases both uncertainty and risk.31

2.2 Status and trends on water under the MDGs

2.2.1 Drinking water, sanitation and hygiene

In 2010, 89% of the world’s population used improved drinking water sources, an increase of 13% (or approximately 2 billion people) over 1990 access levels, meant that the proportion of the population without sustainable access to an improved drinking water source had been halved. While ostensibly the MDG drinking water target has thus been met, some have argued that the MDG pertained to “safe” drinking water, not improved water sources. Importantly, almost half of the increase was achieved in China and India, and 11% of the world population – currently 783 million people – still lack access. With current trends, 8% or 605 million people will still lack access to an improved source of drinking water by 2015.32 Inequality remains deep, and there is both a


AMCOW (2010) “AMCOW Workplan January 2011 - December 2013”


Vandermoortele (2012) “Advancing the Global Development Agenda Post-2015; some thoughts, ideas and practical suggestions.”

28 EC (2012) Public Consultation “Towards a post-2015 development framework” 29

Bond (2012) “Sustainable Development Goals: Building the Foundations for an Inclusive Process.”


WWDR4 2012 “Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk”

31 WWDR4 2012 “Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk” 32



urban and gender divide in terms of access to drinking water. While significant gains have been made across Africa, current progress is too slow to meet the continental target of 78% by 2015.

The sanitation target is very significantly off track, and is unlikely to be met even at the global level. Approximately 50 countries are off track individually.33 Despite slight progress, almost half of the population in developing regions, corresponding to 2.5 billion people, lack access to improved sanitation facilities. Greatest progress has been made in Eastern and Southern Asia, while Oceania, Western Asia and sub-Saharan Africa made least progress. With current trends, 67% coverage is projected by 2015, while 75% coverage is required to achieve the MDG target. There is also a strong urban-rural divide in terms of sanitation – global coverage is approximately 80% in urban areas but only 50% in rural ones.

Despite strong evidence that hygiene is as important, if not more so, than water and sanitation for combating waterborne and other infectious diseases, hygiene was never explicitly identified in the MDG framework. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions have been described as “critical determinants of health”34 that prevent faecal-oral transmission of pathogens and hygiene promotion has been identified as having one of the greatest cost-benefit ratios of disease control interventions.35 The lack of consideration of hygiene within the MDG framework has resulted in very little monitoring of hygiene uptake globally, with only 26% of countries having national targets for hygiene promotion programmes36. Despite this, 90% of national health strategies refer to hygiene (based on GLAAS survey respondents).37

2.2.2 Water in relation to other MDGs (other than Goal 7)

Although water is closely linked to other key areas for development, the design of MDGs has not taken into

account the cross-cutting nature of water.38 Consequently there seems to have been little work done on tracking

water in other MDGs than MDG7. Despite the major historic contribution of water to developed economies, water development and management has not fared so well in building connections for positive contributions across the other MDGs.

In lieu of, and in parallel to, MDG connections, there have been a number of ‘international agreements’ on water management – namely in Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Millennium Declaration, and

the 13th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. While most have now past their deadlines,

Agenda 21 has a lifetime extending beyond 2015, and under its Chapter 18 there is a live internationally agreed commitment to achieve seven sub-sectoral targets by 2025. These are:

1. Integrated Water Resources Development and Management, with the overall objective of

satisfying the freshwater needs of all countries for their sustainable development

2. Water resources assessment

3. Protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems

4. Drinking water supply and sanitation

5. Water and sustainable urban development

6. Water for sustainable food production and rural development

7. Impacts of climate change on water resources

Within the overall timeline of 2025, some sub-sectoral targets (particularly 1 and 2) were set with earlier delivery dates as ‘predecessors’ to the delivery of rural and urban development in a sustainable manner up to 2025. Sub-sectoral target 4 was selected as a specific target under the MDGs, where it was given an earlier delivery date of 2015 and articulated to provide service to one half of the 1990 unserved population. Progress on IWRM by 2008 (three years after the JPOI target date of 2005 for all countries) saw six of 27 developed countries with fully


JMP (2012) “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update”

34 Cairncross S, et al (2010) “Hygiene, sanitation, and water: What needs to be done?” PLoS Med 7:e365

35 Laxminarayan R et al. (2006) “Intervention Cost-Effectiveness: Overview of Main Messages”. In Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al.

(2006) Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition. Washington DC: The World Bank. pp 35–86.


UN Water 2012 GLAAS Report

37 UN Water 2012 GLAAS Report 38



implemented IWRM plans, and a further 10 with plans in place but only partially implemented.39 Among 53 developing countries, nearly 40% had plans completed or being implemented by that date. According to a 2012 survey of 133 countries, 50% of respondents had made “significant progress” towards developing and implementing IWRM plans, and 45% of high-income countries (Western European and others) had fully implemented national IWRM plans. Other regions were not as advanced, with 15% of respondents in Asia Pacific, 8% in Africa, 5% in Eastern European States and no respondents in Latin America and Caribbean having fully

implemented national IWRM plans.40 Other processes are being undertaken by the Union of the Mediterranean,

which is aiming to have IWRM instruments in place in all member countries by 2015 as the precursor to hard investments, and UNECE, which is supporting IWRM planning in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Furthermore, European Member States are now aligning themselves (and the European Neighbourhood) with the ‘Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water’.

Politically, Africa has moved on from the concept of IWRM to ‘Water for Growth and Development’, seeing IWRM

as too narrowly focused on water resources management, and not best suited to African water needs. At the 4th

African Water Week, AMCOW declared its intentions to make ‘Water for Growth’ its priority for the next decade, raising outcomes on the ground to the same level as has been achieved for drinking water and sanitation. Were there demand in the remaining countries to do so, there is arguably sufficient time between 2008 and 2015, combined with the substantial drive and available finance of the international donor community, to prepare and implement the Agenda 21 and JPOI commitments on IWRM and water efficiency. This may argue against continuing the high profile of such a planning process beyond 2015. Additionally, much greater emphasis is now placed on the implementation of IWRM principles, as part of water policy reform.

A UN-Water survey in 2012 on the status of integrated approaches to water resources management reported that

82% of countries are implementing changes to their water laws and proposing integrated approaches for the development, management, and use of water resources. This has been a far-reaching outcome of Agenda 21.

 79% of countries report changes in their water policy – however, translating policy and legal changes into

implementation is a slow process.

 The survey showed that 65% of countries have developed integrated water resources management plans,

as called for in the JPoI, and 34% report an advanced stage of implementation. However, progress appears to have slowed or even regressed in low and medium HDI countries since 2008.

 67% of countries reported the inclusion of water in national/federal development planning documents.

 Approximately a quarter of countries report on constraints noted obstacles relating to legal frameworks

and strategic planning.

2.3 Strengths and weakness of the MDGs

As set out in the introductory contexts, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the MDGs is of value to informing post-2015 and SDG development agendas. There are clearly already many lessons that have been learned from the MDGs, including their strengths and weaknesses, and there is general agreement on several of these (Table 2.1)41. This brief review of the MDGs focuses on three dimensions, namely the MDGs as a collective, MDG7 on Environmental Sustainability, and MDG Target 7.

Looking at the MDGs broadly they ambitiously set out to tackle the challenges of the poorest, but framed them in easily communicated goals. This made the MDGs easy to advocate and allowed them to mobilise public and political support for development. The UNTT concludes that global targets have been successful when they have been inspiring, clear, few in number, ambitious but feasible and measurable. In addition, most of the MDGs are based on previous, politically agreed targets, which made them easier to re-agree on in conjunction with the UNGA

39 UN-Water 2008 Status Report on IWRM and Water Efficiency Plans for CSD16 40 UN Water 2012 Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management


See e.g. ODI Background Note (2011) “After 2015: progress and challenges for development”.; BOND (2012) “Sustainable Development Goals: Building the Foundations for an Inclusive Process”; World Economic Forum “Global Outlook 2013”



Millennium Summit. The political negotiation that the SDGs will be subject to is, therefore, an important difference from the MDG process.

While most of the MDGs will not be achieved by 2015, they have been successful as a development instrument in mobilizing political commitment at the highest levels. The MDGs have increased aid pledges and aid commitments and strengthened both international attention to poverty as well as the priority given to poverty by developing countries. The MDGs are also claimed to have helped advance policy debates and to coordinate international development initiatives and their implementation. Moreover, they led to a shift in the type of aid delivered as focus on social dimensions increased.

However, a multi-dimensional approach never evolved; rather the shift was from one narrow focus to another. The MDG framework has also been criticised for neglecting critical dimensions such as climate change, the quality of education, human rights, economic growth, infrastructure, good governance and security. In addition they do not capture the overarching goal of sustainability globally. They have also been criticized for not including some critical development aspects, such as access to basic energy services. An overarching critique includes a neglect of how growth can contribute to development outcomes and a lack of accountability, given that there is no appointed responsibility for goal achievement. In terms of process, the donor-led formulation process allowed little attention to local context and the results management focus has been a source for criticism. Although the quantitative and deadline driven nature of the goals and targets made them tractable and provided a clear mechanism for assessment, the focus on measurable, average progress meant that the MDGs failed to address inequalities. They therefore neglected the poorest and most vulnerable. The overall goal structure has also been criticised for being messy and the lack of data at national level an obstacle to measuring progress.

Table 2.1. Summary of Strengths and Weaknesses of the MDGs



 Ambitious but realistic

 Simple

 Long-term (beyond electoral cycles)

 Integrated

 Partnership focused

 Quantified and deadline driven


 Donor-led with little attention to local context

 Based on average progress at national or global level

 Messy goal structures and data poverty

 Weak environmental targets

 Focus only on developing economies


 Mobilised public and high-level political support for development

 Increased aid pledges and aid commitments

 Increased international attention to poverty

 Increased priority given to poverty reduction by developing countries

 Helped to advance policy debates, spur advocacy

 Greater coordination of international development and development implementation

 Production of poverty-related data

 Increased focus on social dimensions (but not multi-dimensional)


 Failed to deal with inequalities, neglect of the poorest and most vulnerable

 Neglect of how growth can contribute to development outcomes

 Missed dimensions including climate change, the quality of education, human rights, economic growth, infrastructure, good governance and security.

 Lack of accountability

 Not multi-dimensional

 Missed the opportunity to discuss sustainability at the global level for all countries

Regarding MDG7 on Environmental Sustainability, within which the drinking water and sanitation targets were framed, the ‘World We Want’ has identified a series of shortfalls42, namely:

42 The World We Want: E-Discussion Framing Paper: Environmental Sustainability for the World We Want: Moving from the MDGs to Post-2015.



 Country-level challenges of monitoring, including unreliable and inaccessible data, a lack of statistical capacities, as well as difficulties related to lack of public awareness, legislative and regulatory frameworks, inadequate human resource capacity and the need for more partnerships. Many countries are only recently getting up to speed on monitoring efforts on environmental targets, with additional indicators having been added in 2008. In this regard, the water and sanitation targets are viewed as something of an exception within MDG7 as a whole.

 Weak linkages between MDG 7 and other MDGs, with causal links between poverty and the environment

being poorly articulated, and weak development of responses.

 Fragmentation of MDG 7, whereby the overall goal of environmental sustainability is fragmented by diverse targets and does not integrate the different components. While MDG 7 contains elements that contribute to environmental sustainability, those elements alone have not provided a full picture.  Lack of participation of stakeholders at all levels, including the marginalized and those most affected by a

lack of environmental sustainability, is frequently mentioned as a major obstacle to progress. Consequently, there is a need to empower everyone to participate in efforts towards environmental sustainability through education, public awareness and training.

 Lack of commitment regarding the necessary national investments to achieve MDG 7, despite the fact that targeted interventions and investments in environmental sustainability can have strong positive impacts.

 Other perceived obstacles to progress on MDG7 include pressure on environmental resources from high

use and “natural hazards and other external shocks”, insufficient governance and planning policies, a lack of “science, education, media and culture for environmental sustainability”, social unrest and lack of financial resources are among the challenges contributing to insufficient progress on environmental sustainability. One of the main challenges is the lack of coordination among national institutions and authorities stemming from an unclear definition of roles and responsibilities. Collaboration among the donors also presents difficulties in terms of country priorities versus those of the donor community. Regarding MDG targets on drinking water and sanitation specifically, the following shortfalls are identified:

Universality: It has become increasingly clear over the course of the MDG period that, while the global target for access to improved drinking water source has been achieved, the picture at the national level is very different, with 7 out of 42 countries in Africa either showing a decline or stagnancy in the absolute population with access to improved water supplies43 and at least 30 countries worldwide not on track for 2015.44 Yet, arguably, it is not correct to say that Africa is off-track on the MDG; the MDG was to halve the number of 1990 unserved globally. Achieving that halving in all countries would have exceeded the MDG target. Thus, labelling Sub-Saharan Africa as ‘off-track’ against an MDG that was global in its ambition risks labelling solid progress on drinking water as failure, while pointing to the inequity inherent in achieving the global MDG target.

Associated targets: As discussed above, water and sanitation play a role in achieving all of the other MDG targets. A recent analysis indicates that water and sanitation are statistically significant in all but one (school enrolment) of the other MDG indicators.45 Given that water and sanitation are critical to human health, the location of target 7c within the environment goal of the MDGs has been questioned, given that arguably greater synergies may have derived from association with other health actions rather than association with extent of forest cover and extent of protected areas. This positioning of the targets for water and sanitation limited the rationale for acknowledging water’s cross-sectoral linkages.

43 Economic Commission for Africa et al., 2012 44

JMP (2012) “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update”


Cheng et al., 2012 Summary analysis: Quantifying Water Supply, Sanitation and the MDGs; Cheng et al 2012 Environmental Health vol 11 issue 4



The population baseline: In absolute terms, because of population growth from the 1990 baseline (and because of increasing urbanisation), the number of people without an improved source in urban areas has actually increased.46

Half and half – to have and not to have: Arguably, the setting of a target to attain coverages for half of the population inevitably meant that the easiest would be reached first, leaving ‘the harder to reach’ for after the 2015 target date. Consequently, inequality remains a concern. An analysis of data from 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (representing 84 per cent of the region’s population) shows significant differences between the poorest and richest fifths of the population in both rural and urban areas.47

Carts and horses – development and indicators: One historical set of thinking around the MDGs was that they were indicators of development progress, but not necessarily the unique means for attaining development progress. This is reflected in progress on the drinking water target. On one hand, economic development – particularly in Asia – has enabled improved access to drinking water, and to a lesser extent, sanitation. Thus, improved drinking water coverage is one indicator of economic and social progress by other means – namely economic growth that has boosted taxation (and Government investment into basic infrastructure) and household abilities to pay for basic services. In this case, economic growth has been the ‘horse’ pulling up drinking water access. On the other hand, access to drinking water has been seen as a driver of development with economic and social rates of return, whereby the indicator becomes a ‘development magnet’ for prioritising investments because it is an MDG – including at the expense of other growth sectors that could lead to ‘indirect’ attainment of the coverage. This leads to viewpoint that a lack of commitment regarding the necessary national investments to achieve the water and sanitation targets directly, despite the rates of return on investment, particularly in water, sanitation and hygiene. Undoubtedly, both are legitimate development pathways, but the central point relates to a risk of indicators becoming the prioritisor of investments.

Equity: Equity is a key consideration to be carried forward into the post-2015/SDG discussion. During the MDG period, water and sanitation were declared a human right by the UN General Assembly. The insufficient participation of stakeholders at all levels, especially the marginalized and those most affected by a lack of environmental sustainability, is critical for continued success. Consequently, there is a need to empower everyone to participate in efforts towards environmental sustainability through education, public awareness, training and a degree of ownership over both the problems and their solutions. Participation also implies taking into account the local context and the cultural dimension, as well as recognizing the relevance of free, independent and pluralistic media for progress towards environmental sustainability.

Data and monitoring constraints: Data and monitoring are a key impediment to progress, especially in the case of the water and sanitation targets. For convenience’s sake, “improved drinking water source” was picked as an indicator because it was more readily measureable compared to a “safe drinking water source.” This expediency around data handling had profound impacts on measurement and reporting around MDG 7c. In general, countries fall short when it comes to data collection, monitoring and reporting. With respect to the MDG 7 indicators in particular, countries face challenges including unreliable and inaccessible data, a lack of statistical capacities, as well as difficulties related to lack of public awareness, legislative and regulatory frameworks, inadequate human resource capacity and the need for more partnerships. The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) has invested significant effort to establish a monitoring framework for the water and sanitation targets. Even in countries with established networks, budget cuts and a lack of standardisation across jurisdictions threaten to undermine efforts.48

Definitions: Since it is not yet possible to measure water quality globally, dimensions of safety, reliability and sustainability are not reflected in the proxy indicator used to track progress towards the MDG target. As a result, it is likely that the number of people using improved water sources is an overestimate of the actual number of people using safe water supplies. Continued efforts are required to promote global monitoring of drinking water


JMP (2012) “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update”

47 JMP (2012) “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update” 48



safety, reliability and sustainability and to move beyond the MDG water target to universal coverage. Inherent difficulties have existed when attempting to define what is “safe”, “improved” or “adequate”, as these are value judgements and context specific. The recent water and sanitation ladders (JMP) have provided some clarity through the establishment of standardised thresholds, but are not without criticism. For example, debates exist around whether shared sanitation facilities should be considered “unimproved”, whether the existence of a sanitation facility implies its regular use (it does not) and, whether the ultimate goal in sanitation should be flush toilets. The achievement of the global water target in advance of 2015, while laudable and representative of progress, conceals issues of whether the water is available 24-7, the quality of the water even if the source is considered improved, equity of access, and the functionality of the water point, none of which are measured directly. On the other hand, the financial and time investments required to regularly collect this information is prohibitive. On a positive note, the Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality (RADWQ) tool attempts to provide more in depth data and the use of mobile technologies is likely to alleviate some of the costs currently associated with data collection.

Evidence-based policy: In short, it is not simply the collection of data, but its analysis and use for informed decision-making; it is extremely difficult to effectively manage what we do not know. In support of this, the science-policy interface needs to be strengthened to ensure evidence informed policies for environmental sustainability, human wellbeing and economic growth. SWA has taken up the call for standardisation of national monitoring indicators within the WaSH sector. More recently, Bill Gates has taken up the call for improved data collection and monitoring for evaluation - "we need better measurement tools to determine which approaches work and which do not".49

2.3.1 Lessons learned

Drawing upon the identified strengths and weaknesses of the MDGs, a number of lessons learned have become evident. These provide the foundation for emerging principles for an evolution of water from an MDG framework to a post-2015/SDG development framework.

All partners and stakeholders will have to look at the ‘big picture’ first before ‘selling’ their particular issue. If not, the post-2015 agenda will be unfocused, unending, unattractive and unfit for purpose. Success will depend on the clarity, conciseness and measurability of the new agenda. Global targets must be seen as servants, never as masters. Design of the new agenda is to be balanced, creative, inclusive and disciplined.50 There is no agreed text or framework from which the post-2015 agenda can be drawn unlike the MDGs being drawn from the Millennium Declaration, and while the principles remain valid, the world has moved on since 2000.

Reflecting the lessons learnt from the MDGs, Member States under ECOSOC have agreed that future goals shall be “action-oriented, concise, easy to communicate, limited in number and aspirational”. Further it has been agreed that they should be global in nature, universally applicable while taking national realities, capacities and levels of development into account as well as respect national policies and priorities. While building on the MDG framework, it is further widely acknowledged that the post-2015 agenda must reflect the changes in the economic and political landscape. ECOSOC emphasizes stronger focus on democratic rights, a supportive international environment and stronger global governance as important factors to support new goals. Member states of the ECOSOC have further emphasized the need for goals to address sustainable development, inclusive growth, inequalities, demographic dynamics, governance, conflict, food security and nutrition, thus covering missed dimensions of the MDGs. ECOSOC has further stressed that several of the MDGs were to narrow and there is generally a greater focus on sustainability, thus addressing the shortcomings of the MDGs to be multi-dimensional in scope. There is also emphasis on making new goals more contextual, and the ECOSOC suggests national goals should be determined nationally, in line with universal global goals. This should avoid a one size fit all approach, strengthen national ownership, priority setting and national means of implementation.

UN Member States have agreed in the Rio+20 outcome document that SDGs must:


2013 Annual Letter from Bill Gates




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