Originally published in IISD by Leila Mead

A side event held on the sidelines of the 2019 Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD) sought to explore the interlinkages between water and sanitation and the SDGs under review by the 2019 High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The side event specifically focused on interlinkages between SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDGs 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals). In so doing, it sought to ensure that water aspects are considered at regional meetings with countries and at the HLPF.

The event built on the ‘SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation,’ which is a UN-Water report with contributions by 13 UN agencies and other organizations. In addition, it addressed an African regional policy paper on SDG 6 interlinkages, which demonstrates the importance of understanding such interlinkages for appropriate priority setting and policy coherence and effectiveness at the regional and national scales.

The event further highlighted the need for: access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in schools to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education; regular maintenance funding to ensure safe water and sanitation services in schools; and hygiene to be a compulsory subject from preschool onwards.

Case studies were presented on better integrating the SDGs into policy and practice and on rainwater harvesting to showcase a practical solution to cope with increasing water scarcity and improve water access. The event also emphasized the enabling role of water to make progress on other SDGs, the Africa Water Vision 2025 and Agenda 2063.

The side event, which took place on 16 April, was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Regional Office for Africa and UN Water. The fifth ARFSD convened from 16-18 April 2019, under the theme, ‘Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality.’ Its outcomes will feed into the 2019 HLPF in July 2019, and be used for policy advocacy, formulation and implementation at regional and national levels. The Forum also offered the opportunity for Africa to articulate inputs on challenges faced in implementing the SDGs to the SDG Summit in September 2019.

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