WaterAid takes Everyone, everywhere campaign to the UN

A big week in New York has seen encouraging signs that the world will renew efforts to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis...


26 Sep 2013 | UK

After last week's Everyone, everywhere 2030 petition hand-in to Nick Clegg, this week we took the petition even further – to the UN General Assembly in New York!

Jan Eliasson with the End Water Poverty petitionYour signatures joined others from around the world to total an incredible 1.1 million people all calling for universal access to taps and toilets.

The global petition was presented to UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson by the End Water Poverty coalition. 

Mr Eliasson, pictured right, was delighted to see the huge level of support for water and sanitation, and even added his own signature to the grand total!

UN recognises the importance of sanitation

Yesterday saw negotiations taking place at the UN General Assembly around accelerating progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set in the year 2000 and due to expire in 2015. Decision-makers also began discussions about what international development priorities the world should tackle next, in order to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

We were really encouraged by what we heard. Opening the discussion, the President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, said:

"To say our work remains unfinished is an understatement… More than 1.3 billion people still live in extreme poverty. Two and a half billion people lack access to decent sanitation and one billion practise open defecation."

With your help, we have been campaigning to draw attention to the fact that sanitation is one of the most off-track targets, holding back development in other areas such as health and education. This week, world leaders resolved to focus on the MDGs that are most off-track, including the targets on increasing access to water and sanitation. This is fantastic news.

Focusing on the basics

We can't hope to end poverty without focusing on the basics, as our Chief Executive, Barbara Frost, explains:

"If we are to eliminate extreme poverty within a generation and bring about a better life for women and girls, we need to focus efforts on providing sustainable and affordable basic services, like water, sanitation and hygiene to everyone, everywhere by 2030."

Following the hand-in of our Everyone, everywhere by 2030 petition to Nick Clegg last week, it was fantastic to hear the Deputy Prime Minister raising the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in his own speech. He told world leaders that in order to realise the ambitions of the MDGs, the UK has "focused on the things that make a concrete difference to people's lives", using clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene as his first example.

This is truly a watershed moment. Throughout the UN discussions, it has been exciting to see governments, NGOs and the private sector alike agreed that there has never been a better time to end extreme poverty once and for all – and firmly committing to do so.

What next?

WaterAid is now calling on world leaders to:

  • Ramp up their efforts to increase access to water and especially sanitation, by 2015.
  • Introduce a new Sustainable Development Goal to ensure we can live in a world where everyone, everywhere has clean water to drink and a safe place to go the toilet by 2030.

The open working group on Sustainable Development Goals now has a year to draft a set of new goals before the next General Assembly in September 2014. These goals will then be debated before a final draft is prepared for the 2015 summit. Your continued support will be vital in making this happen.

Find out more and take it further: