IWA Side Event at the 2023 UN Water Conference:​ Cross-sectoral partnerships to accelerate progress towards inclusive sanitation

Date: Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Time: 11:00-12:15 EST (Eastern Standard Time)

Location: UN Headquarters, Side Event Room B

Registration: Event open only to UN Water Conference registered delegates


The 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Report exposed some very concerning data about the world’s progression towards SDG6, showing that meeting WASH targets by 2030 will require a fourfold increase in the pace of progress. Metrics about safely managed sanitation are particularly alarming, sending a clear message that current policies and practices are not working, and immediate action must be taken.

There is an urgent need for an accelerated and inclusive approach to expanding safe sanitation service coverage. Multiple technologies are available for achieving this – both sewered or onsite, centralised or decentralised. But mere technology choices do not ensure the end users will benefit as they should. Governments must lead by taking a wider perspective into consideration, including the governance mechanisms, the laws and regulations that clarify the mandate for safe and inclusive services, understanding how authorities and private sector operators can be organized and incentivized, and how individual contributions and needs must be aligned and supported to also ensure that environmental public health goals are being met.

Description of the session

The session on Cross-sectoral partnerships to accelerate progress towards inclusive sanitation will look beyond technology and the usual focus on building infrastructure and discuss how to adopt a holistic approach to create a conducive policy, legal, institutional, and regulatory environment that enables and incentivizes accelerated progress towards safe sanitation services for all. Further, the session will also discuss and highlight the role and importance of science, innovation and development in bridging and shortening this pathway will be highlighted and shared.

Representatives from the public, private, and social sectors will bring to the table their perspectives on how cross-sectoral and intergenerational partnerships can collaborate to support national governments in achieving SDG 6.2 through: (1) developing enforceable policies, laws, regulations, and guidelines that clearly define roles, responsibilities, accountability mechanisms, and resources for planning, execution, and management for inclusive services; (2) building strong institutional arrangements that address equity, safety and sustainability targets; and (3) establishing finance planning and management institutions that are designed to shield these policies and institutions from political and economic instability.

Format of the session

The session will be designed to allow maximum debate among panellists and the audience. Panellists will have a limited amount of time – 3 to 5 minutes each – to make igniting pitches. The remaining time will be used for Q&A and discussions involving the audience. The format of the debate will be defined considering the room layout (if possible, using the world café or fishbowl format, to ensure inclusivity). The final 10 minutes of the session will be used for wrap-up, announcement of IWA’s voluntary commitment to advocate for inclusive sanitation agenda, and presentation of the SanitAction campaign – IWA’s call for collaborative action to reshape the global agenda on urban sanitation over the coming years.

The outcomes of this session will be used by the participants of the Youth4SDG6 fellowship programme as input for a joint IWA/Grundfos publication on the critical need for youth engagement in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Key Partners


  • Kala Vairavamoorthy, International Water Association, United Kingdom
  • Filipe Sampaio, National Water and Sanitation Agency, Brazil
  • Brian Arbogast, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA
  • Bisi Agberemi, United Nations Children’s Fund, USA
  • Arne Panesar, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), Germany
  • Virginia Newton-Lewis, Grundfos, Denmark
  • Jennifer Molwantwa, Water Research Commission, South Africa
  • Maitreyi Koduganti, Water Youth Network, the Netherlands
  • Vladimir Arana, International Secretariat for Water, Canada
  • Kelvin Chitumbo, Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation (ESAWAS) Regulators Association, Zambia