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Urgent action is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goal for water

24 March 2020

Mark Hansford, ICE’s Director of Engineering Knowledge, discusses the ‘Urgent Action Water’ publication, and how our profession must act to meet the complex and pressing challenges of water.

Urgent action is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goal for water
The Urgent Action Water publication

Of all of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), none can be more fundamental to human existence than SDG 6, which calls for access to clean water and sanitation for all people.

Ever since the SDGs were adopted by all UN member states in 2015, the infrastructure sector has been faced with the challenge of how best to integrate them into its processes – from concept to drawing board to real-world application. Whether reducing waste where it seems plentiful, delivering it effectively in regions of scarcity, or directing it safely when disaster strikes, engineers are central to the good management of the planet’s water.

Why the need for 'urgent' action?

With the existing climate change scenario, by 2030, water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places will displace between 24 million and 700 million people (UNCCD) and it is estimated that by 2040, one in four of the world’s children under 18 – some 600 million in all – will be living in areas of extremely high water stress (UNICEF, 2017).

Civil engineers and infrastructure professionals around the world have a direct role in helping to combat the climate emergency, and ICE has a duty to build, share and develop it’s infrastructure knowledge about the sustainable management of our natural resources.

What is UN SDG 6?

The UN SDG 6 sets targets to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

This goal goes beyond drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to also address the quality and sustainability of water resources, critical to the survival of people and the planet. The 2030 agenda recognises the centrality of water resources to sustainable development, and the vital role that improved drinking water, sanitation and hygiene play in progress in other areas, including health, education and poverty reduction.

World Water Day, celebrated on 22 March, highlighted the challenges facing our most precious of natural resources, and the sustainable solutions that can help address them.

Launch of free e-book to address the water challenge

In recognition of this challenge, ICE has produced a free ebook, Urgent Action Water.

Launched to coincide with World Water Day, Urgent Action Water is a digital publication featuring articles from industry experts and academics, as well as such organisations as WaterAid, UNICEF and the Oxford University Centre for the Environment.

Urgent Action Water aims to share stories of engineering success, best practice, and to highlight avenues of new thinking around the issue of water in an effort to help our profession meet the complex and pressing challenges of SDG 6 – today and into the future.

Download the e-book

ICE would like to thank the publishers, St James’s House, for their work in producing this publication.

  • Mark Hansford, director of engineering knowledge at Institution of Civil Engineers