Teaming Up For The Win: How Water and Sanitation Can Make a Serious Difference
Robyn FischerRobyn Fischer serves as the Policy & Advocacy officer at WaterAid America, working to ensure that the poorest communities in the developing world have access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation infrastructure, and hygiene programs. Prior to joining WaterAid in 2014, Robyn advocated for clean water at the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has also worked on water and power issues with the U.S. House of Representatives. Robyn holds a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in freshwater policy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was born and raised in California and is currently based in Washington, DC.
In case you haven’t noticed, big things are happening in the world of water. Just last year, Americans stepped up to ask their government to pass legislation that prioritizes water, sanitation and hygiene for people with exceptional need—and it did. Shortly after, jaws dropped as business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates made a point of drinking water distilled from human feces. And this week, heads are turning yet again as 11 of the world’s most well-known corporations team up with two of the world’s most influential organizations in the WASH and freshwater conservation communities to voice their support for the most ambitious, yet achievable, stand-alone goal on water and sanitation that the world has ever seen.
In 2000, the United Nations agreed a set of goals to help eradicate poverty, improve global health and accelerate development, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This September, governments from every corner of the globe are expected to agree on a new global initiative called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will serve as the framework for global development initiatives and investment over the next 15 years. These targets will lay out what the world wants to achieve when it comes to reducing poverty, promoting well-being, advancing education, fostering gender equality, improving global partnerships and building a more just and environmentally stable world. The SDGs will also include safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
The question is, how ambitious will that goal be?
The chance to live healthy, dignified lives can only come with access to quality drinking water and toilets. That’s why we need a Sustainable Development Goal that highlights the value of public health and freshwater conservation. That’s also why WaterAid and the World Wildlife Fund have joined together with major international corporations including Coca-Cola, DIAGEO, HSBC, SAB Miller and Unilever among others to ask the U.S. Government to be a voice for change, advocating for a robust water and sanitation goal in negotiations with other United Nations Member States. In a joint statement released this week, WaterAid and the World Wildlife Federation call for the integration of both freshwater conservation, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services as a way to effectively provide safe water for everyone, everywhere.
Without these basic services, communities are at a higher risk of suffering devastating health impacts, such as water-related diarrheal diseases that claim the lives of 1,400 children every day. And nearly one-fifth of the world’s population – about 1.2 billion people – is currently residing in regions where water is now physically scarce. WASH and freshwater conservation efforts are critical for communities to survive and thrive. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the U.S. Government and other nations protect and provide access to safe water sources and adequate sanitation services.
It’s not every day that WaterAid, the World Wildlife Fund and so many international corporations step up to move the U.S. Government to act. But today is no ordinary day. Now more than ever, the U.S. government needs to hear from its citizens – they need to hear from you. Every voice matters. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
So stand up and have your voice heard! Take action today and let the U.S. government know that you, too, want a water and sanitation goal that will help the communities most in need.