Sustainable Development Goal 6 is about “clean water and sanitation for all”. It is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
“We have committed investments of more than 240 billion dollars in the water sector through government resources, in partnership with private innovators, start-ups, and water-user associations. India is implementing two flagship missions to ensure universal access to sanitation and drinking water,” Shekhawat said, delivering the national statement in the UN General Assembly.
He said India is implementing the largest dam rehabilitation programme in the world to build climate resilience critical water storage infrastructure.
Further, due to the country’s unique geography, India is among the largest users of groundwater in the world, he said.
“However, today we are making efforts to restore groundwater level and create mindful communities by combining demand and supply side interventions through village Water Security Plans, inculcating behavioural changes on water usage and conservation at the grass-root level, financing these plans through incentives and convergence of existing programmes,” he said.
The minister said this has led to creating greater community ownership in the equitable management of water at a local level. Shekhawat told the conference that India’s ambitious National Mission for Clean Ganga or Namami Gange has been recently recognised by the UN Convention of Biodiversity conference COP15 held at Montreal as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships to revive the natural world.
“This mission has created a paradigm shift in river rejuvenation, pollution abatement, conservation of ecosystems and holistic approach to river basin management,” he said.
Arth Ganga, a model of circular economy, fully aligns with SDG goals 6.3 and 6.6 with 6(b) in creating environmentally friendly sustainable practices of resource management by local communities for water security.
He emphasised that the government’s ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ or Water Life Mission aims to achieve safe and affordable drinking water in rural households by 2024 and manage its own in-village water supply systems.
“With a commitment to successfully implement this ambitious 50 billion dollar programme in mission mode, we are poised to achieve SDG 6.1 well before 2030,” he said, referring to the target of achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
He further said India’s Swachh Bharat Mission or Clean India Mission milestone was reached in 2019 when the country was declared open defecation free.
“In our journey to achieve SDG 6.2, since 2014 we have built over 105 million toilets, and transformed sanitation habits through mass scale behaviour change of more than 600 million Indians,” he said.
The campaign continues through efforts at ensuring sustainable solid and liquid waste management solutions in all 600,000 villages and communities in India. The SGD 6.2 target aims to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation by 2030, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
He noted that at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the concept of LiFE or “Lifestyle for Environment”.
This concept was translated into an action agenda with the launch of “Mission LiFE” by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and PM Modi in October 2022.
“The initiative is aimed at encouraging people to pick pro-planet sustainable choices in their daily lives, to live sustainably and reduce our environmental footprint, and is driven by the concept of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’,” he said.
Underscoring that water is at the heart of Mission LiFE, Shekhawat appealed to all delegates at the conference to successfully adopt mission LiFE in this international decade for action on the water.
The UN 2023 Water Conference – formally known as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028) – is currently underway at UN Headquarters.
Co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands, the March 22-24 conference will result in a summary of proceedings from the UNGA President that will feed into the 2023 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.