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Finding relevant indicators for water related SDGs

author: Tom Bijkerk

On Friday 6 March, EBC together with Canal de Isabel II, Waternet and VA SYD organised a Knowledge Picnic. 

The Picnic focussed on continuing the discussion in the EBC network on Finding relevant indicators for water sector related Sustainable Development Goals.

15 Participants from 8 different water- and wastewater utilities gathered at the Innovation Centre of Canal de Isabel II in Madrid for the expert meeting. Some other interested utilities who had to cancel their participation because of the Corona virus outbreak delivered valuable input for the discussions by mail.

After a warm welcome by Canal de Isabel II and an introduction by EBC, the group split into three for two roundtable sessions. During the first roundtable the participants discussed the relevance of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the underlying 169 targets for water- and wastewater utilities. During the second roundtable the group discussed possible indicators for the relevant targets.

Input for the roundtable discussions was a shortlist of possible relevant targets prepared by EBC, based on the results of the first Knowledge Picnic in Malmo, the discussions during EBC’s annual workshop in Helsinki and a comprehensive literature review. Out of the original 169 targets, 42 were selected for the shortlist and where possible indicators were presented.

During fruitful and lively discussions it became clear that it is essential to reach a common understanding of the SDGs and their relevance for water services. Participants concluded that the water sector can certainly contribute to a wide variety of the 169 targets. The targets however address countries, so the challenge is to translate them into concrete targets for water utilities and find appropriate indicators to measure the contribution to the SDGS and progress over time.

The Picnic brought this discussion a step further; the shortlist was reviewed and some new targets and indicators were added. It turned out that quite a lot of indicators are already available in EBC’s benchmarking programme.

As a next step, the shortlist will be further processed into a preliminary set of SDG targets and indicators for use in the EBC programme. This year’s benchmarking exercise will include an ‘SDG pilot’, of which the first results are expected after Summer.

The lively discussion during the Knowledge Picnic also showed that we're far from finished talking about the SDG’s… so more to follow!