The European Toilet Declaration launches in Brussels

On World Toilet Day, UK MEP Catherine Bearder officially launched the European Toilet Declaration at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.


19 Nov 2014

The European Toilet Declaration is a joint call to action from the private sector, NGOs and Members of European Parliament for the EU to back a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal aiming to enable universal access to basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030.

WaterAid and Unilever – the organisations behind the Declaration – were joined by WASH United and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the launch, which also featured a video message from Jan Eliasson, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The EU has a crucial part to play in helping to end a crisis that, since 2000, has claimed the lives of more than ten million children younger than five years old. The declaration states that the first step is for the EU and Member States to support:

  • A dedicated goal on water and sanitation, with targets to eliminate open defecation, achieve universal access to basic WASH by 2030 and to extend access to schools and healthcare facilities.
  • Integrated targets and indicators that recognise the fundamental link between WASH and other sustainable development objectives.
  • Universal targets on WASH that leave no one behind and focus on eliminating inequalities in access for the poorest people and those who are marginalised.

The declaration’s launch came at a crucial time, 23 days before development ministers from EU Member States will meet to agree a common position on the post-Millennium Development Goal framework.

Responding to the World Toilet Day activities, the EU Commissioner for Development, Neven Mimica said “Over 2.5 billion people have no access to sanitation facilities, and over a billion practice open defecation. 85% of them live in just ten countries. This makes access to sanitation the most off-track of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which the international community committed to fulfil by 2015. Therefore, urgent action is needed. And I am ready to play my part as European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.”

Children wash their hands in front of the latrine at their local primary school. Warok, Plateau State, Nigeria.
Children wash their hands in front of the latrine at their local primary school. Warok, Nigeria.
Photo credit: WaterAid/Suzanne Porter

World Toilet Day is a UN-recognised international annual event which aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge. WaterAid and Unilever have collaborated to celebrate the humble toilet on this day in Brussels, the home of many of the EU institutions.

For more information

Read the European Toilet Declaration (PDF, 577 KB) >

Lisez la Déclaration européenne pour les Toilettes (PDF, 570 KB) >

Read We can't wait – the joint report by WaterAid and Unilever on why the EU must take action on sanitation (PDF, 1.24 MB) >

Lisez Nous ne pouvons pas attendre (PDF, 1.25 MB) >

Read the Huffington Post blog by Catherine Bearder MEP >

Backing the European Toilet Declaration are:


  • Catherine Bearder MEP (ALDE)
  • Beatriz Becerra MEP (ALDE)
  • Seb Dance MEP (S&D)
  • Nirj Deva MEP (ECR)
  • Bas Eickhout MEP (Greens/EFA)
  • Julie Girling MEP (ECR)
  • Ana Gomes MEP (S&D)
  • Heidi Hautala MEP (Greens/EFA)
  • Maria Heubuch MEP (Greens/EFA)
  • Stelios Kouloglou MEP (GUE-NGL)
  • Linda McAvan MEP (S&D)
  • Maurice Ponga MEP (EPP)
  • Keith Taylor MEP (Greens/EFA)


  • Christian Aid
  • End Open Defecation campaign
  • Global Poverty Project
  • Light for the World
  • Simavi
  • WASH Advocates
  • WASHUnited
  • WaterAid
  • World Toilet Organisation

Private sector

  • Firminich
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • salt
  • Unilever
  • Water UK