This University of Queensland discussion paper from the Water for Equity and Wellbeing Initiative was developed to consider Australia’s efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Australia, and within the broader Asia-Pacific region.
It focuses particularly on those SDGs that are concerned with water, and it challenges the current steps being undertaken towards attaining the SDGs in both Australia and overseas. The recommendations identify the most influential and critical SDGs that affect the attainment of the water, sanitation and hygiene goal – and, in doing so, the influence of the other goals, and identify plausible pathways for cross-government responsibility for attaining the SDGs.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present a complex challenge for policy-makers and other stakeholders as it is difficult to know where, precisely, the most effective ‘starting point’ for implementation lies. The interlinkages between the SDGs and their respective targets are numerous and complex. The 17 goals have 169 targets, of which many explicitly refer to at least one other goal. The goal for water, sanitation and hygiene (SDG 6) focuses on water quality, quantity, sanitation and integrated management. Beyond SDG 6, water is explicitly mentioned in relation to SDG 3 (health impacts from water-borne diseases and contaminated water), SDG 11 (water-related disasters), SDG 12 (water pollution), and SDG 15 (conservation of freshwater ecosystems).
An earlier discussion paper from The University of Queensland on the SDGs (Hall et al., 2016) cautioned that a ‘list-based’ or siloed approach could overlook the complex interlinkages, trade-offs, synergies, and the positive and negative feedback loops. Without understanding these interlinked foundations, it is difficult to develop coherent and integrated policies needed to attract appropriate investment and implementation benefits.
The aims of this discussion paper are to:
- Identify the most effective and efficient starting points for governments to begin implementation of the SDGs; and
- Identify which government portfolios and supporting governance arrangements could usefully be implemented across each particular SDG, and across the suite of SDGs.
A multidisciplinary team of 13 researchers was assembled to identify the influences of the SDGs on each other, with a focus on water, sanitation and hygiene, to guide how to best achieve traction towards progressing the SDGs – and particularly, for the attainment of the goal for water, sanitation and hygiene (SDG 6). Through workshops, they identified the interlinkages and influences between the 17 SDGs and also between the targets within SDG 6 (water, sanitation and hygiene). The resulting diagrams (see Figure 1 and Figure 7) provide a guide for SDG strategic understanding, and corresponding funding and implementation of targeted actions.
Download the discussion paper here.