SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The goal of SDG6 is to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation. This includes improving water quality by reducing pollution and increasing the efficiency of water use across all sectors to address water scarcity.

Access to water and hygienic sanitation are basic human rights and are critical sustainable development challenges, particularly when it comes to improving health and gender equality. Better management of water resources also facilitates more effective food and energy production, as well as preserving biodiversity and limiting the impacts of climate change.

Poor management and under-prioritisation of water management remains widespread around the globe, however, while diseases related to poor water and sanitation are still among the major causes of death in children under five.

These challenges will only worsen – and the impacts on people will only increase – as competing demands for clean fresh water (from agriculture, households, energy generation, industrial use, ecosystems, etc.) are exacerbated by population growth, urbanisation, and the effects of climate change on water quality and availability. These conditions will create increasing risk for businesses, governments, communities, and the environment.

How the cement and concrete industry is making a positive difference

Construction of the infrastructure necessary to achieve SDG6 goals – e.g. to provide clean water (SDG6.1) and adequate sanitation (SDG6.2) – is made possible by concrete: its properties enable it to supply potable water and to carry wastewater; it is durable and resilient to climate-related and natural disasters; and it is cost effective and widely available.

Water is also a critical resource for cement and concrete production. The industry takes an active approach to managing its water usage to lower consumption, increase recycling, reduce pollution (SDG6.3), and protect water-related ecosystems (SDG6.6) and other industries that rely on water, such as agriculture. The importance of water management (SDG6.5) is highlighted in the GCCA Sustainability Charter with GCCA members required to monitor and report water usage against key performance indicators.

Case studies

Water management at HeidelbergCement

Zero freshwater withdrawal

Argos: Living Footprint Program

Votorantim Cimentos: Water Management Plan maps the reduction of water consumption through the whole production chain