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Sustainable Development Goal 6

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Water scarcity threatens the future of civilization as we know it. Currently, more than 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water scarcity, and 785 million people lack even basic drinking water service. By 2030, 700 million people worldwide could be displaced due to water shortages. The thirst of a growing population and increased water demand for agriculture and industry, coupled with more frequent droughts and floods due to climate change, makes the search for solutions more urgent than ever before.

WRI provides critical insights and timely data to help ensure a water-secure future (SDG 6). For example, new WRI research uncovered that drinking water access (6.1) and affordability crises in cities are often more severe than previously recognized.

Through the Aqueduct platform, we advise and support governments and other stakeholders on water risks, sustainable water withdrawals and water-use efficiency (SDG 6.4). Researchers and technical experts from WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, Natural Infrastructure Initiative, Forest Program, and Climate Program assist countries and cities in restoring and protecting water-related ecosystems such as forested watersheds and wetlands (SDG 6.6), and in strengthening participation of local communities in water projects.

Decision-makers use our Green Grey Assessment method to estimate the costs, benefits and returns on investment of natural infrastructure projects. A WRI report produced with the World Bank highlights the potential for increasing nature-based solutions together with engineered infrastructure to address water-related challenges. New work currently underway measures the financial investment necessary to meet SDG 6.


This working paper describes sanitation access challenges in cities of the global south that have been overlooked in global indicators. In analyzing 15 cities, we found that almost two-thirds of urban residents lack access to safely managed sanitation, with access lowest in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. For these households, sanitation services are too expensive or unsafe. This paper highlights four key action areas for cities to improve sanitation access: extend the sewer and simplified sewer networks to household, communal and public toilets; support and regulate on-site sanitation in the absence of sewer systems; support citywide settlement upgrading; and make sanitation services affordable for all.


The Natural Infrastructure for Aquifer Recharge Financial Calculator, is an excel based tool with a flexible financial model that estimates the private costs and benefits, including the return on investment (ROI), of natural infrastructure interventions designed to enhance aquifer recharge. The technical note explains the methods, data and assumptions used to produce the tool.

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