You can’t say SDG 6 without SDG 5 – an HLPF recap

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, or HLPF for short, is the moment where the state of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDG’s, are taken under the loop. Now, halfway to the SDG’s deadline of 2030, it is clear that we are not on track to reaching them without bold and transformative action. “The way things are going, it will take 286 years to close gender gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws” the special edition report of the Secretary-General states. This year, SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation was one of the SDG’s due for review. This was particularly timely, given the UN Water Conference that took place earlier this year. Our delegation from WECF joined the HLPF and actively organized and engaged in several SDG6 related events, but as always with SDG5 (gender equality) right at the heart.

Take a look at some of the key moments of our engagement during the HLPF: 

Local Water Action 

Bright and early on the first day of the HLPF, WECF’s Rebecca Heuvelmans joined the panel discussion of the official side event titled: “Ensuring Equitable Access to Clean Drinking Water for Women and Girls Using Clean Energy Technology”. Here she highlighted WECF’s work with partners on access to clean water in countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Serbia and solar water heating solutions in Georgia. Key to the success of these projects was the active involvement and leadership of women and girls in all their diversity, youth and local communities. She stressed that to truly tap into our full potential to create a just and healthy planet, “we need to look beyond merely providing for these groups, but towards providing with.”  

“On Tuesdays we wear pink” 

Together and in solidarity is the only way to make real progress. Therefore, we were glad to join other fierce feminists of the Women’s Major Group (WMG) and participate in the hugely successful color campaign. Each day, the WMG highlighted an important topic by wearing one color. On the day the banner picture was taken for example, we all wore pink with the call to “advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality”.

Toxic-Free and Sustainable Menstrual Health = a Right 

Dressed in pink, we headed to our side event on “Menstrual Health Rights”, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Spain and co-organized by the WMG and WECF. In organizing this event we made good on our menstrual health and dignity commitment submitted during the UN Water Conference, to continue to advocate for the rights and dignity of all menstruators. The charge d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of Spain presented opening remarks and highlighted Spain’s new law on “the right to menstrual health as the integral state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to the menstrual cycle”. Executive Director Sascha Gabizon lead the panel discussion, which included WECF partners Bharti Kannan from social enterprise Boondh in India and Natasha Dokovska from Journalists for Human Rights among others. Both stressed the importance of improving (free) access to reusable and toxic free menstrual health products that are better for the environment, climate and personal health.

Have a look at the full event via YouTube here.

Transboundary Water Cooperation 

With an eye on the UN Water Conference, we co-organized a widely attended online side event on Transboundary Water Co-operation as key for achieving SDG6, hosted by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Moldova. During the event, panelists shared good practices and lessons learned from stakeholder engagement around transboundary river basin cooperation from the Eastern European region. Panelist particularly focused on the Dniester River Basin, shared between the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Closing off the session was Ukrainian youth activist Sofia Oliynichuk, Chair of the youth water council of Ovidiopol, who was also a previous winner of the “Colors of Dniester” competition co-organised by our partner Black Sea Women’s Club. For Sofia, the competition was the start of her involvement in protecting the Dniester river, and she stressed that the competition has motivated many other youths “to become part of the environmental movement to preserve the water sources of our native river”.  

SDG Summit 

We need bold and transformative action guided by the leadership of feminists and women and girls in all their diversity to achieve SDG6. We will be back to follow the SDG Summit in September and will keep a feminist eye out for the discussions related to safe water and sanitation. Follow us on Twitter to keep informed on our engagement together with our partners Trupti Jain and Sevidzem Ernestine Leikeki.