SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation
SDG 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Improving access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygienic facilities needs to be addressed for a large portion of our world, including here in Canada. As of November 2020, 41 First Nations communities are not able to get clean water out of their taps[i]. Ongoing access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services are some of the most effective ways to prevent disease and improve human health. Identifying water scarcity and water pollution through education and awareness can help fight ignorance or passive positions on the issue.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle
This goal not only focuses on human consumption of water, but the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide. Most wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or seas without any treatment, leading to various forms of pollution[ii]. The Masters of Water Security[iii] is a joint initiative between the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) and the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) which prepares students to work in water protection and development. Past student projects include researching flood events, lake water quality for fish species, soil temperature and moisture retention[iv]. But you don’t have to be a masters’ level program at the top water resources research institute in Canada to embed this SDG into your teaching.
You might also be able to align your teaching to this SDG if you want your students to be able to:
- Describe the causes, effects and consequences of water pollution and water scarcity around the world.
- Evaluate inequities in water distribution and the lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
- Identify socio-economic differences and gender disparities in the access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
- Contribute to water resource management and reduce their water footprint at the local level.
- Develop and test strategies and activities that help reduce and prevent water pollution, ensure water access and implement water saving measures.
You might consider having your students reflect, share, act in some of these ways:
- Explore initiatives and kits developed by the Saskatchewan-based Safe Drinking Water Foundation.
- The World’s Largest Lesson page for Goal 6 has downloadable comics, posters and lesson plans here.
- Clean Water For All is a lesson plan that addresses water pollution through brainstorming, group work and physical demonstrations.
- AMANZI explores water access issues, allowing students to take on the role of families who experience barriers in accessing clean water.
- Learn about water scarcity and water pollution issues in your community and explore how water insecurity, privatization, or pollution are impacting your community. Identify what needs to change and who you can ask to help change that.
- Talk to your students and let them know you care about water. Connect your curriculum to a cause like World Water Day or World Toilet Day .
Some curricular connections and questions for students might be:
Media – How are water issues reported in the media? What angle do you think is important to focus on?
Environment – What are the main water sources in your community? What are the biggest challenges to water quality and quantity? What are the biggest threats to our world’s water sources?
Poverty, wealth, and power – How is access to clean water a poverty issue? Locally? Nationally? Internationally?
Indigenous Peoples – What are the challenges for Indigenous People regarding access to safe and clean water? How are individuals and communities taking a stand?
Peace and conflict – How do people get clean water in times of conflict? What might some barriers be? What environmental impacts to water are caused by conflict?
Oppression and genocide – How has control over water been used as a tool of oppression? How have people resisted this oppression?
Gender politics – How is access, or lack of access, to water and sanitation a gendered issue?
Social justice and human rights – How are people around the world exercising their right to water?
Health and biotechnology – What technologies have helped ensure access to water? How have these advances helped efforts to get clean water?