Make Integrity a Part of the Sustainable Development Goals

Proposal for improved SDG targets on water

As the 13th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals progresses this week, WIN, SIWI and Transparency International welcome the presentation of a dedicated water goal to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as requested by more than 100 countries. We are, nevertheless, deeply concerned that without due consideration of integrity issues, the proposed water targets do not reflect the actions needed to achieve the goal of “Ensure availability and sustainable use of water and sanitation for all”.

By 2050, 4 billion people are expected to live in water-stressed areas and water demand will increase by 55%. Achieving the water goal will require massive financial investments in a sector renowned for miss-allocation and drainage of funds while depletion of water bodies continues unabated.

Securing safe and sustainable water for all requires more than technical solutions. Sound and stable institutions managing the competition for water with integrity will be as important as physical water infrastructure.

Therefore, we propose the following modification to the proposed targets (proposed changes in italics):

  • Expand proposed target 6.4 (water use efficiency) to read : “by 2030, improve water-use efficiency by x% across all sectors, improve the economic efficiency of the water sector by y% and bring freshwater withdrawals in line with sustainable supply”
  • Expand proposed target 6.5 (integrated water resource management) to read : “by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels,including mechanisms for transparency, stakeholder engagement and public participation and through transboundary cooperation as appropriate”
  • Expand proposed target 9.1 (infrastructure) to read: “through competitive and transparent procurement processes, support the development of quality, reliable, safe, sustainable and resilient infrastructure for energy, water, waste management, transport, ports and ICT, with a focus on affordable access for all”

All proposed targets are measurable by tested indicators such as the share of non-revenue water in water and sanitation systems, infrastructure productivity, and the Water Management Transparency Index (which has been pioneered in Spain to assess the transparency of water management agencies) and the Methodology for Assessing Procurement Systems (MAPS, which measures the quality of procurement systems).

We further urge the Open Working Group on SDGs to support the proposed separate goals and targets on transparency, accountability and anti-corruption; capable institutions; and the rule of law (all listed under the proposed goal # 16), which form essential building blocks for an responsive water sector capable and accountable for providing access to water and sanitation for all.