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Toilet Board Coalition develops initiatives to fight the sanitation crisis


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Brussels/New York/London – The Toilet Board Coalition has been launched today to coincide with the celebration of World Toilet Day.

Unilever logo building

The Toilet Board Coalition is a global, business-led coalition of leading companies, government agencies, sanitation experts and non-profit organisations. It aims to develop sustainable and scalable commercial solutions in response to the sanitation crisis. Events to mark the launch will take place today at the United Nations headquarters in New York and at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Sanitation remains one of the world’s great challenges. Two and a half billion people lack access to a safe, clean toilet, and one billion suffer the daily indignity of open defecation – a situation with far reaching and often devastating consequences. In fact, sanitation is one of the Millennium Development Goals lagging the furthest behind as we approach the 2015 deadline. It is a social, economic and increasingly political catastrophe and to address it at scale requires market-based, sustainable solutions.

The Toilet Board Coalition is the first coalition of its kind and will provide a step-change in sanitation to those who need it most. The Toilet Board Coalition will ensure close collaboration between private, public and non-profit players to bring together the best technologies, expertise, financial resources and networks to develop market-based sanitation initiatives that can be implemented at scale.

Commenting on the launch, Jean-Laurent Ingles, Chairman of the Toilet Board Coalition and Senior Vice President of Household Care at Unilever, said: “Business has an integral role to play if we are to solve the sanitation crisis at scale. The Toilet Board introduces an essential, missing ingredient in the fight towards improving sanitation globally. By working with development experts, businesses can select, improve and nurture scalable initiatives that will increase demand for toilets and address every step of the value chain in a commercially sustainable way.”

Initiated by Unilever in 2012, the Toilet Board Coalition has already made significant headway, producing important work in evaluating existing and potential sanitation models and approaches. It is now in the process of identifying, analysing and selecting a number of initiatives it will support, in both rural and urban areas globally.

Ingles added: “It’s not a silver bullet, nor does it claim to replace the philanthropic programs addressing the needs of the ultra-poor. However, the Toilet Board Coalition will bring together a unique mix of skills and talent to make initiatives market-ready, and complements the wide range of sanitation initiatives that have been running for years - and will no doubt continue. This model did not exist before, which is why the Toilet Board Coalition is essential in leading commercially scalable solutions to the sanitation crisis.”

The Toilet Board Coalition brings together some of the most forward-thinking organisations in the sanitation space: Firmenich, Kimberly-Clark, LIXIL Corporation and Unilever represent the business sector; Dr Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Barbara Evans of the University of Leeds bring academic rigour to the table.

A number of development sector and governmental bodies bring their one-of-a-kind resources and specialist knowledge: Agence Française De Développement; the Asian Development Bank; the UK’s Department for International Development; Stone Family Foundation; WaterAid; Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP); Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC); the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme; the World Toilet Organization; Water and Sanitation for Africa; and UNICEF.

The Coalition also has a number of independent directors and world renowned sanitation experts; including Jon Lane (previously Executive Director of the WSSCC); Neil Macleod, former Head of Water and Sanitation of eThekwini Municipality in South Africa; and Perry Rivera of Manila Water.

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Toilet Board Coalition initiatives

Over last six months, the Toilet Board Coalition has started five key initiatives:

  • Strengthening the support to Clean Team; Clean Team is an innovative urban mobile toilet model started in Ghana by Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) and Unilever, now with support from DFID and the Stone Family Foundation
  • Evaluating the potential international roll-out of the Clean Team model with Laguna Water, a subsidiary of Manila Water Company, the leading Filipino water utility
  • Engaging a co-creation process with four leading rural sanitation implementation agencies to design and test commercially sustainable solutions for villages in India, Bangladesh and Cambodia
  • Leading an Open Innovation team focused on developing the next generation of sanitation solutions; bringing together the technological know-how of LIXIL Corporation, Firmenich, Kimberly-Clark and Unilever
  • Exploring innovative ways of integrating waste treatment; decentralised or large scale - into sustainable value chains
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