Reconciling global aspirations and local realities: Challenges facing the Sustainable Development Goals for water and sanitation

Elsevier, World Development, Volume 118, 2019, Pages 106-117, ISSN 0305-750X
Veronica Herrera

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is ambitious and inclusive, but how well are these global aspirations likely to result in implementable policy change for water and sanitation? This article assesses governance challenges at the local level associated with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which pledges to ensure sustainable water and sanitation for all. The majority of developing countries manage services at the subnational level, making the quality of local governance the key ingredient for improvements in the sector. This article first reviews prior shortcomings in global monitoring efforts and how SDG 6 was formulated to address them. The analysis then examines local governance challenges facing SDG 6 and potential barriers to implementation. These barriers manifest as both contradictions within SDG 6 itself as well as contradictions between SDG 6 and the Sustainable Development Agenda more broadly. As SDG monitoring rubrics undergo further reformulations, it may be necessary to prioritize between goals and targets, or otherwise stagger the timing of their promotion and implementation.