3rd meeting - 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF)


My name is Melissa McCracken from Water Youth Network, speaking on behalf of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth.

Given that this is the first SDG reviewed at this HLPF, we would like to reiterate the role of our children and youth constituency in implementing the SDGs. Approximately 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30, so we have significant capacity for enacting change. Of the billions of people that lack access to safe water and sanitation, a significant proportion are children and youth. Furthermore, today’s policies on water and sanitation will directly impact children and youth throughout their lifetime; therefore, intergenerational equity is needed in the long-term planning of policies. Children and youth must be included in multi-scalar policy development processes.

With respect to SDG 6, youth led organizations are actively monitoring and implementing Goal 6 and its targets. For example, the European Youth Forum, with its partners, manages the Youth Progress Index, which defines progress for young people and measures youth-specific indicators in relation to water and sanitation, such as youth satisfaction with the quality of water. Another example is The Water Youth Network’s YouKnoW platform, which provides an overview of, and connects, youth-led SDG6 projects. Children are also active in implementing the SDGs. Children to children partnerships work to build access to water and improve sanitation, as well as restore ecosystems by planting trees globally.

In response to the SDG 6 Synthesis Report, we would like to share a four recommendations aimed at accelerating progress towards SDG6 and youth involvement:

First, we need to improve the knowledge base on water resources that is inclusive of both formal and informal knowledge sources. It is crucial to frame the discussion in the context of interlinkages with other SDGs. Barriers to SDG6 look different across the urban-rural continuum of territorial spaces.


Anthropogenic climate change and unsustainable rates of resource consumption, among other trends, are making the achievement of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation increasingly more difficult.


This is not something that can be compromised.

Second, we need to embed resilience at the policy, investment, and implementation level as it is central to absorb and respond to shocks and stresses of our rapidly changing world. Integrated water resource management, through Target 6.5, should seek to proactively identify, mitigate, and respond to risks and uncertainty. This is also clearly outlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Third, children and youth need to have water education and capacity building on water and sanitation issues. They must be given access to programs to develop their capacity and access to job opportunities in the water sector.

Fourth, young people should have access to global and national data on SDG 6 that are disaggregated in order to better understand and manage water and sanitation, within and across borders.


Investments should be made to empower young people and civil society to interpret data and develop activities to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.


Ultimately, we need to work together - intergenerationally and across stakeholder groups when it comes to water access, water security, ecosystem restoration, climate-change, and water conflict and cooperation.

To finish with a question, with nearly 50% of the world’s surface area within the 310 international river basins, the potential for cooperation is high and we are ready for it. Therefore, what efforts are being made to involve young people in the inclusive governance of transboundary waters and what progress is being made to promote a rights-based approach in the dialogue?

Watch the discussion here.

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