Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Personal tools

The Big Debate

Are the water SDGs an opportunity or an unachievable task?

The finalisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) signalled a renewed commitment by the international community to the idea of a unified global development project. They also highlight the enormity of the challenge. In the WASH sector targets 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 call for a steep change in ambition in terms of both the levels of service and the numerical targets across water supply, sanitation and hygiene; for most countries achieving the WASH-related SDGs alone would represent an unprecedented change of pace in investment and sustainability. At the same time the SDGs call for WASH to be embedded in processes which protect and enhance the sustainable management of water resources.   

The Big Debate brings together four sector specialists with unique insights into the specifics of these challenges. On the one hand Professor Duncan Mara and Ian Ross will lay out the scale of the challenge associated with the SDG WASH targets alone, asking if they are essentially unachievable and if their monitoring will present unprecedented challenges; on the other hand Dr Stuart Bunn and Louise Whiting will argue that the stewardship of water resources called for by the SDGs offers a unique opportunity to change the dynamics and secure the future development of water as a whole.  

The panel will set out some arguments before we open the floor for a facilitated debate around this important question.  If the enormity of the SDG challenge keeps you awake at night, if you are an optimist, a pessimist or you just haven’t thought about it yet then please come along and join the Big Debate. 

Debate Facilitator: Barbara Evans


Duncan Mara (University of Leeds)

Ian Ross (Oxford Policy Management)

Stuart Bunn (Australian Rivers Institute)

Louise Whiting (WaterAid)

Hosted on Day one of the WASH Futures Conference, Monday 16 May.

Watch the full Big Debate here.


Personal tools