A few additional comments on the latest SDG draft on water and science and research

It has been a busy week and so I mostly focused my analysis in an earlier blog on areas I had been actively working on over the last year. 

Science and research

So I only got to cross reference a few things when I had a call from SciDev today and they wanted to know what I thought about how science and research was reflected in the text in the new draft of the SDG OWG. I have to say I wasn’t following it and so I read through and only find in the new draft research appearing only three times:

2.a       increase investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research, technology development, and capable institutions, particularly in countries that are net food importers
3.b    support research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines, and support developing countries’ use of TRIPS flexibilities
14.a     increase scientific knowledge, and transfer of marine technology, and develop research infrastructure and capacities to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs

And science an additional two times:
17.7   promote North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international collaboration on and access to science, technology and innovation, and enhance knowledge sharing, including through a possible UN global technology facilitation mechanism

17.9   fully operationalize the Technology Bank and STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) Capacity Building Mechanism for LDCs by 2017 

This clearly isn't enough and will need to be dealt with in the last meeting of the SDG OWG. My suggestion is that the section following 17.14 should be renamed Science, research,  data,  monitoring  and accountability and additional targets are out there dealing with these subjects.  


I am someone who has been involved with the water community since the second World Water Forum and I felt the water community and UN Water had done some great work with the previous draft. Unfortunately the present draft misses some very critical targets that I hope will be brought back in. In particular:

We are missing the old 6.2:
 6.2 by 2030 provide universal access to safe and affordable sanitation and hygiene including at home, schools, health centers and refugee camps, paying special  attention to the needs of women and girls

Why this is a good goal is it enables a focus on schools, health centers and so protecting the young and the ill. This is a great nexus target recognizing the role that water plays in other sectors. 

We are also missing 6.6
6.6 ensure sustainable extraction and supply of fresh water, and by 2020 protect and restore ecosystems and aquifers that provide water-related services.

Here this is a critical target - nearly everywhere in the world we are draining the aquifers - I live in North Carolina and the Ogallala Aquifer which is just below me and covers much of the central United States is one of the world's great aquifers, but in places it is being rapidly depleted by growing municipal use, and continuing agricultural use. This huge aquifer, which underlies portions of eight states, contains primarily fossil water from the time of the last glaciation. Annual recharge, in the more arid parts of the aquifer, is estimated to total only about 10 percent of annual withdrawals. This is a clear issue for all countries and it would be very important to put this back.

The next two weeks will be critical and there will be enormous pressure to reduce the number of targets not increase them - but lets not reduce and miss out critical targets for the sake of reducing the number. 


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