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      Synergies and Trade-offs between Sanitation and the Sustainable Development Goals

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            To better leverage opportunities arising out of sustainable and inclusive management of sanitation services there is a need for robust and comprehensive evidence of the wide ranging benefits that sanitation can deliver. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive framework for sustainable development broken down into 169 interconnected Targets which are articulated under 17 Goals. Based on a methodology developed at University College London (UCL), this study identifies linkages between sanitation and the 169 Targets corroborated by published evidence. We show that there are synergies between sanitation and all 17 Goals and 130 (77%) of the Targets, and trade-offs for 28 (17%) of the Targets. We identified 83 Targets (49%) that call for action in the sanitation sector. The results demonstrate the far-reaching benefits that can be unlocked from investment in sanitation , which extend beyond health and spread across sectors. The evidence base for the 17 goals establishes links that can inform cross-sectoral action, collaborations and investment across governance levels for integrated sanitation solutions. The research provides different stakeholders with a framework that can be applied to context specific cases and projects. We propose a range of recommendations to policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers who seek to take this study further to help achieve the SDGs.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            5 January 2021
            [1 ] UCL EFID, CPM
            [2 ] UCL, DPU
            [3 ] UCL, ISR
            [4 ] UCL, CEGE
            [5 ] UCL, Bartlett
            [6 ] UCL, STEaPP
            [7 ] UCL, UNSW
            [8 ] Population, Policy and Practice, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
            Author information

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            : 6 August 2020
            : 18 March 2021

            The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
            Earth & Environmental sciences,Engineering
            Sanitation,Trade-offs,Cross-sectoral partnerships,Sustainable development,Interdisciplinary,Water,Synergies,The Environment,SDG


            Date: 18 March 2021

            Handling Editor: Dan Osborn

            Editorial decision: Accept. The revised article has been accepted following peer review and it is suitable for publication in UCL Open: Environment.


            Comments from the handling Editor:

            I am most grateful to the two reviewers who found the time during the on-going challenges of a global pandemic to read this submission to UCL Open: Environment. Their comments helped the authors strengthen their paper and informed my decision to move this paper to full publication. In line with the journal's open review processes, I am setting out my reasons for full publication. 

            The SDGs are an important component of international action that is trying to improve the lives of people in all nations but particularly for those living in poverty of one kind or another. 100s of millions of people live without access to clean water and sanitation. Making progress on the SDGs is vital if we are to develop a more resilient world were people's wellbeing and health are to the fore.  

            To make progress on the SDGs each must be seen in the context of the interplay between many practical and operational factors. These include: positive and negative interactions amongst the SDGs themselves; the way measures of progress are assessed and reported; the policy, programmes and plans of individual UN member states; resources (both financial and practical) needed to deliver such policies and effective operational schemes - in this case with respect to sanitation. Armed with this kind of information delivery bodies might be able to better formulate approaches to delivering the SDGs that are economically viable, socially appropriate, and environmentally sound (i.e. sustainable). This paper on the SDGs and Sanitation is a contribution to that area of discourse. I have decided that this paper is well worthy of publication because the authors presented an academically interesting analysis that reviewers did not find any serious flaws in although a clear view was expressed that the paper could have said more about the policy actions that need to be acted on. The same reviewer did however also note the potential the analysis had for inspiring modern work in the economic area and this comment I found very helpful. It is difficult indeed for any one journal paper to cover the whole ground. But unless different aspects of the SDG world-view are published it might be even more difficult for delivery bodies to assemble from the knowledge base the on-the-ground evidence that is so vital for alleviating poverty and disadvantage in practice and that influences how policy-makers and funders prioritise support. 

            2021-03-18 09:55 UTC

            Date: 06 January 2020

            Handling Editor: Dan Osborn

            The article has been revised, this article remains a preprint article and peer-review has not been completed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment Preprint for open peer review.

            2021-01-06 17:16 UTC

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