Water, sanitation & hygiene
Dr Analia Mendez, Expertise and Authority Director Household Care at Unilever, took part in a UN General Assembly debate on Water, Sanitation and Sustainable Energy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The debate focused on what a potential Sustainable Development Goal around water, sanitation and hygiene could look like when the current Millennium Development Goals end in 2015.
Opening the session, UN General Secretary Banki Moon said: “Some 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Some 1 billion people practice open defecation.
“Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene must feature prominently in the post 2015 development agenda.”
Girish Menon, Deputy Chief Executive of charity Water Aid, said: “To say progress on addressing the global sanitation crisis is slow is a gross understatement.”
He added: “No village, no city and no country has ever lifted themselves out of poverty without first improving water, sanitation and hygiene.
“Poor sanitation directly affects health. Diarrhoea spread by a lack of hygiene and sanitation claims the lives of 2,000 children under the age of 5 every single day.
“That’s the same as malaria, measles and AIDS combined.”
Unilever believes business has a key role to play. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan includes a commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of 1 billion people by 2020 through brands such as Lifebuoy soap, Domestos toilet cleaner and Pureit water purifiers.
The Plan has shown that sustainability is compatible with growth. Lifebuoy soap has grown double digit while improving the hygiene practices of millions worldwide over the past three years.
“Business has a great deal to contribute to development and to the implementation of a new global set of goals,” said Analia Mendez.
“We have the human, financial and innovation capital to make a game-changing difference and, through our networks and supply chains, to share technology and knowledge.”
Unilever recognises that partnerships are the key to success and is engaged with peer companies, governments and civil society organisations to develop scalable solutions.
Unilever believes that the Post-2015 framework should contain a dedicated goal on securing sustainable water for all – which would include a target on safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, with handwashing with soap called out as a specific target.
“The drafting of this new Post-2015 development framework represents a pivotal moment in the journey towards a more equitable, sustainable world and business stands ready to play our part in delivering a future where everyone’s right to water, sanitation and hygiene is realised,” said Mendez.