Monitoring SDG6 on water and sanitation

2020 Data Drive

Introduction

The 2020 Data Drive is part of the UN-Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative for Sustainable Development Goal 6 (IMI-SDG6): ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’.

When countries adopted the SDGs, they committed to report data on SDG indicators to the UN to track progress and ensure accountability.

The Data Drive involves countries collecting and reporting data on various SDG 6 indicators to multiple UN agencies, coordinated by UN-Water.

Credible and timely data are essential to the realization of the SDGs, as they help decision-makers to identify countries, people and sectors that are left behind, and set priorities for increased efforts and investments.

What is the 2020 Data Drive and why is it happening?

Since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, there has been at least one round of global data compilation for all of the 11 SDG 6 indicators. For five of the indicators, there are now sufficient country data to produce a global baseline, but for six of them we don’t yet have enough. In fact, the average country in the world is reporting on only about half of the indicators. This represents a major knowledge gap.

To close this data gap and update existing data, in 2020 we are launching the second round of global data compilation on these seven SDG 6 indicators:

  • wastewater (6.3.1)
  • ambient water quality (6.3.2)
  • water use efficiency (6.4.1)
  • water stress (6.4.2)
  • integrated water resources management (6.5.1)
  • transboundary cooperation (6.5.2)
  • ecosystems (6.6.1)

The custodian agencies for these indicators are contacting the relevant country ‘focal points’ with requests for data. This is the 2020 Data Drive.

As part of the drive, the custodian agencies will also offer support to the focal points in a variety of ways (see ‘Available support’ links), such as providing methodologies, helpdesks, webinars and workshops.

Who is involved in the 2020 Data Drive? Who are the ‘focal points’?

Within a country, data on water and sanitation are collected by a wide variety of stakeholders. For example, the Ministry of Environment may look after data on ambient water quality, whereas water use may be under the Ministry of Agriculture. Water basin associations may monitor integrated water resources management and transboundary cooperation. And the national statistical office has overall responsibility for SDG reporting.

Within each country, for each SDG indicator there is a specific ‘focal point’ (sometimes more than one) who is the main point of contact for the custodian agencies. These focal points are the main players in the 2020 Data Drive, as they will receive the request for data from the custodian agencies. Often, the focal points are working with colleagues within and outside their organization to compile the data.

Given the many stakeholders, it is recommended that countries also identify an overall focal point who can work with indicator-specific focal points and promote coordination and collaboration across the indicators. In the 2020 Data Drive, the overall focal points are copied in to the request for data from the custodian agencies to the indicator-specific focal points, to ensure that they have a complete picture of all ongoing data compilation processes in their country.

How does the data get compiled in practice?

The process for compiling country data varies across the indicators. In most cases, a data request is sent to the national focal point for the indicator, who is encouraged to submit data through a specific questionnaire. For some indicators, the custodian agencies look for already-published data in official open sources and from the national statistical office. Regardless of the compilation process, all final data to be submitted to UNSD will first be validated and approved by the country.

When receiving the request for data, the country focal points will also get information about how to collect and report the data, according to indicator-specific methodologies. The custodian agencies will also explain what support that is available to the country focal points.

The validated data are then submitted by the custodian agencies to the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), to inform follow-up and review at the annual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The data are also published in indicator-specific databases as well as the SDG 6 Data Portal.

What about the other indicators?

Data will not be compiled on all of the SDG 6 indicators in 2020. The custodian agencies contact countries on a regular basis with requests for data. The frequency of these requests varies across the 11 SDG 6 indicators; for some indicators it makes sense to report every to every second year (drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (6.1.1-6.2.1), international cooperation and stakeholder participation (6.a.1 and 6.b.1)), for others it is sufficient every three to four years (6.3.1-6.6.1). You can find an overview of the process and timeline for all indicators under the ‘Reporting process and timeline overview’ link.