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Outcomes of the 12th APWF Webinar with UN-ESCAP about the SDG6 progress and COVID-19 impacts in Asia and the Pacific

The APWF has organized the APWF webinar series as a part of the vital preparation process for the 4th APWS. The APWF webinar series aims to widen and deep-dive into the knowledge of government officials from 49 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including those working in Japanese embassies, and hold discussions on the latest water water-related issues from different perspectives.

In the 12th APWF webinar organized on 11th November 2021, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) discussed its Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) activities. Firstly, Mr. Curt Garrigan, Chief of the Sustainable Urban Development Section, ESCAP, shared their latest Policy Brief about “Accelerating progress towards SDG 6 in the Asia-Pacific region”, which includes the Regional SDG6 Progress 2021 and the COVID-19 impacts. It was developed for the APWF to contribute to the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Forum discussion. Ms. Solène Le Doze, Environmental Affairs Officer, Environment and Development Division, shared the latest findings and best practices on the new e-learning course “Conservation of Oceans and Water Resources,” launched earlier this year. She also presented an overview of the UN-Water regional discussion group supporting the mid-term review of the UN Decade of International Action on Water. She explained the opportunities to participate in this process.

Overview of the 12th APWF Webinar

Date and Time: 11th November 2021, 13:00-14:00 JST
Topic: “ESCAP Updates on Activities on SDG 6: Accelerating progress towards SDG 6 in the Asia-Pacific region and engaging in UN-Water Regional Discussion Groups”
– Curt Garrigan, Chief of the Sustainable Urban Development Section, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP)
– Solène Le Doze, Environmental Affairs Officer, Environment and Development Division UN-ESCAP

In the presentation about the policy brief “Accelerating progress towards SDG 6 in the Asia-Pacific region”, Mr. Garrigan first introduced the Regional SDG6 Progress 2021 that we can see some adequate progress on SDG6 in recent years but remains too slow to meet 2030 targets. 134 million are without access to improved drinking water, and 369 million people still lack access to basic sanitation. SDG 6.4.2 “water stress” shows the regression trend. In addition, COVID-19 has significantly impacted all SDGs. An additional 636 million vulnerable people are at risk of poverty. He highlighted that reliable national and sub-national water data remains limited, but water and sanitation interventions are essential for public health and preventing disease.

He then highlighted the five priorities areas: Financing, Data and Information, Capacity Development, Innovation, and Governance, and delivered the following policy recommendations to cope with the challenges to accelerate the progress of SDG6 under the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Policymakers should harness the momentum achieved through the COVID-19 emergency and follow with long-term commitments to strengthening WASH and water infrastructure.
  • Water resource challenges experienced by vulnerable groups should be addressed directly in national recovery action plans, including providing financial support where necessary.
  • Improve access to handwashing facilities, particularly in schools, markets, health clinics, and detention centers.
  • Implement policies to protect frontline WASH and healthcare workers.
  • Support local community organizations and civil society groups in providing WASH and COVID-19 preventative measures.
  • Strengthen the collection of water data, including water withdrawals and gender-disaggregated WASH data.
  • Advocate for including human health markers and monitoring in IWRM policy design.
  • Strengthen IWRM capacity at local government levels to facilitate stronger coordination of national water priorities.
  • Ensure post-COVID-19 economic recovery activities have provisions to protect water-related ecosystem health.
  • Increase private sector finance and public-private partnerships for investment in water infrastructure.

In the Panel Discussion, the ESCAP discussed the SDG-related data based on the questions from the audience. They introduced the ESCAP’s activities to cope with the shortage of data and enhance the capacity to write the SDG6 progress report in each country. They also shared how to supplement the data from each municipality and reflect them into the national reporting and promote the cooperation and collaboration between public and private institutes and among the UN agencies to achieve the water-related SDGs. They also discussed the policy message interpreted from the data and the e-learning course.

(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Manager)

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