Sustainable Development Goal 6: Water and sanitation for all by 2030

World Toilet Day is a United Nations Observance that celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Having to defecate in the open is an infringement of human rights. Whilst this widespread practice negatively affects the lives of men and women alike, the latter face more risk of being shamed because of it. Lack of adequate toilet facilities and privacy often means that women can’t manage menstruation and pregnancy in private, or that to do so they wait until dark, which increases their vulnerability to being attacked.

Established in 2001 by the World Toilet Organisation, the campaign has since gained increasing global recognition. In 2013 the United Nations passed a resolution (UN Resolution A/67/L.75), marking it as an official international day, with a permanent place in the calendar of such events.

 As a United National international observance day, today is all about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal number six, which promises sanitation for all by 2030.

This year the World Toilet Day 2020 focuses on sustainable sanitation and climate change. According to the United Nations, toilets can help in fighting climate change as well. 

Climate change is getting worse. Flood, drought and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and handwashing facilities, to help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera and typhoid. Sustainable sanitation systems also reuse waste to safely boost agriculture, and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

So, what does a sustainable sanitation system look like? Sustainable sanitation begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting. The waste then gets stored in a tank, which can be emptied later by a collection service, or transported away by pipework. The next stage is treatment and safe disposal. Safe reuse of human waste helps save water, reduces and captures greenhouse gas emissions for energy production, and can provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients.

How do toilets protect our health?

Sustainable sanitation is resilient to climate change and safely processes bodily waste. Toilets, combined with clean water and good hygiene, form a strong defense against COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks.

What have toilets got to do with climate change?

Flood, drought and rising sea levels threaten sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change and keep communities healthy and functioning.

How can toilets help fight climate change?

Wastewater and sludge from toilets contain valuable water, nutrients and energy. Sustainable sanitation systems make productive use of waste to safely boost agriculture and also reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

The 2019 theme: leaving no one behind

Each year World Toilet Day focuses on a theme, and last year drew attention to those people being left behind without sanitation. A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. However, even if sanitation is a human right, 4.2 billion people still live without safely managed toilets. That’s why a world effort is needed to expand access to toilets and to leave no one behind.

The 2018 theme: toilets and nature

2018’s theme was toilets and nature. It focused on developing sanitation systems that are in harmony with our environment, harnessing the power of ecosystems. This included the use of composting latrines, which provide free supply of fertiliser, and reed beds sewage systems to filter liquid waste before it is released back into water courses.

Tu Anh