02/02/21Global Issues 

EU must keep up momentum on SDG6

Reflections on the Water and Beyond Conference


The Sense of Urgency for Action is taking hold - we need to keep the Momentum up


The recent European Commission ‘Water and Beyond’ conference was all about partnerships involving all stakeholders to upscale impact on the ground through the SDG framework.


There were some similar discussions at Davos last week and we welcome the drive to an intelligent agenda of cooperation and exchange that serve as a platform to share action, experience and innovation.


At both these events we noted the positive reaction to our messages that the private sector needs to be more involved in reflection, and of course in the on-the-ground partnerships to reach the 2030, but also the 2050 goals and beyond.


At the EU event, AquaFed presented practical examples, concrete solutions and innovative approaches. Some of our key messages are covered here: “the need to build local skills and knowledge” and our call to “develop a stronger Team Europe”.


We also really enjoyed the many other practical examples and work presented by stakeholders. A clear theme that we put forward and was agreed on by others was about getting users involved in decision-making on water services, and indeed empowering local people to take charge of water and sanitation provision locally. All the expertise is already out there to help make this happen, for example SIMAVI’s guide to facilitation. The water sector needs to stop just talking and put the excellent work of SIMAVI and others like Women4Water into action.


AquaFed’s members are uniquely positioned to help governments and authorities to deliver on the many challenges in the organisation of safe water and sanitation services and to turn the rights to water and sanitation into a reality. We feel that the shift towards action is taking place, in spite of challenging times. The contributions that private operators are making every single day are widely recognised. Our track record is there. More than 1 billion people see this on a daily basis.


We note of the sense of urgency that is taking solid hold in the institutions. We have been advocating for a step change for many years. We see this unfolding and need to keep the pressure and positive attitude uplifted. The European Commission’s Directorate DG DEVCO, now renamed DG INTPA has a challenging time ahead but we stand ready to deliver on the agenda.


For this to happen the EU’s approach to partnerships must be:

  • Action driven and action accountable - there is no time to lose and there is no money to lose on projects do not impact beneficiaries’ real-life situation
  • Impact-evaluated - to guarantee best results per Euro spent for the poor and disadvantaged.
  • Future-proof and inclusive - there should not be bias against any type of stakeholder. Transparency is key and the private sector can deliver on this issue quite easily through its contracts.

On many issues, the EU can act as a catalyst together with other multilateral lenders and partners in the Global South. To be really efficient, the EU’s actions should be simple and straightforward and again now just to build on the expertise that has already been developed and collected.


Now is the time for action. We have the momentum is there. It is time for the EU WOPS programmes for example, that will be developed with UNHABITAT/GWOPA in the coming months, to really prove their value.


The photograph is courtesy of SIMAVI and from their Leaving No-one Behind Facilitation Workshop Training Manual, referred to above.