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What Are We Waiting For?

With 7 years left to go on the sustainable development goals, why aren't we achieving these targets?

An image of dirty looking water creating a small wave

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals website presents a list of 17 targeted goals that they hope to achieve globally by 2030, with some extremely important ones like ending poverty, ending world hunger, ensuring access to quality education, promoting gender equality and ensuring there’s access to affordable and clean energy as well as several others.

According to the UN’s SDG progress report, it is said that the world is not on track to meet its targets by 2023.

Goal six

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

One of the goals mentioned is ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This is a must for society globally. Everyone should have access to clean water and sanitation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. An Infographic provided on the SDS page for this goal highlights the problems we’re expected to be facing in 2030. It’s estimated that 1.6 billion people will lack safely managed drinking water, 1.9 billion will lack basic hand hygiene facilities and nearly 3 billion people will lack safely managed sanitation.

The forecast for the future doesn’t look promising and things have been impacted as of late with Covid-19 setting targets back as well as several other factors. The SDG progress report serves as a warning of how things need to change at an accelerated rate, especially when it comes to water scarcity and sanitation. This isn’t helped by the fact that the UK is currently polluting its lakes, rivers and beaches creating an uninhabitable environment. Water that is uninhabitable and unsafe to swim in will affect local economies and damage ecosystems.

Taking a step backwards

Water companies in England are coming under repeated fire for allegedly discharging sewage into rivers and the sea breaching the conditions in their permits.

A figure published by the Environment Agency showed that in 2020 water companies discharged sewage into rivers more than 400,000 times.

While it’s not illegal to discharge sewage, it’s only meant to be done during exceptional circumstances such as periods of heavy rain. However, there are reports that the sewage has continued even through dry spells which has forced the Environment Agency to investigate the matter and conduct investigations about the alleged spillages.

This has prompted the Environment Agency in the past to warn beachgoers to avoid beaches across England & Wales. As the UK continues to face a cost-of-living crisis, trips to beaches have been more commonplace as affordable day trips and for businesses that are already feeling the pinch losing those valuable customers on sunny days might just signal the end for many of them.

If this continues to happen at an alarming rate, the valuable ecosystems that inhabit the rivers and lakes will cease to exist which has a knock-on effect on Goals 14 & 15 which look at the conservation of the seas and the environment and the push for increased biodiversity.


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