24.05.2018 - Natural Sciences Sector

2018 Gerald Lacey Memorial Lecture, ICE London

On Monday 21 May, the WWAP Director and Coordinator Prof. Uhlenbrook delivered the 2018 Gerald Lacey memorial lecture at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), presenting findings from the upcoming ‘Sustainable Development Goal 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation’. This report is produced by a UN-Water Task Force, to establish the global baseline status of SDG 6 – ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation’.

Professor Uhlenbrook was invited to speak ahead of the first Global Engineering Congress, hosted by ICE together with the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. The Institution of Civil Engineers is reaching a rare milestone in 2018 – a bicentenary. An opportunity to remind the public that civil engineers transform their lives for the better and safeguard the future for their families. In doing so, the institution also hopes to encourage young people to see civil engineering as a creative, rewarding and highly enjoyable career.

Better management of water resources and more efficient water use are essential to the delivery of universal access to clean water and sanitation, according to the WWAP Director.

2.1 Billion people around the world still lack safely managed drinking water while 4.5 billion lack safely managed sanitation services, presenting a global challenge for civil engineers. All heads of UN member states have now agreed that implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM) is essential towards achieving SDG 6. This would ensure that water resources are shared effectively among many competing demands, including across country borders, said Prof. Uhlenbrook. However, only 38% of countries reported at least medium-high IWRM implementation in 2017/18.

Other recommended actions that would help progress towards SDG 6 include increasing water-use efficiency by reducing water losses, such as tackling leakage in municipal distribution networks. Currently, wastewater treatment uses 20% of the energy used by the water sector but by adopting existing energy-neutral technologies, wastewater treatment could become a source of energy production.  Moreover, the WWAP Director stated: “It is essential to understand the interdependency of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Achieving SDG 6 is essential for making progress on all other SDGs and vice versa. Sustainable management of water and sanitation underpins wider efforts to end poverty and advance sustainable development.”

More and better quality data related to gender, income and migration status at regional and local level are needed to deliver effective solutions. Smart technologies could be particularly helpful in providing data from developing countries, even in regions that lack extensive infrastructure.

Nathan Baker, Engineering Knowledge Director at ICE, said:

“The ‘water goal’ is essential for progress on all other SDGs, with sustainable water management enabling social development, such as improving health and reducing poverty, and promoting economic growth across many industries.

“Civil engineers are in a unique and privileged position to help achieve the UN SDGs and ICE is committed to doing all it can to help the engineering sector develop practical steps to tackle SDG 6.  The time has come to turn words into action and ICE is facilitating the global debate on engineering solutions at a Global Engineering Congress in October 2018.”

This article is based on the Press Release by ICE

More information on the event on the ICE website




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