Sanitation and wastewater treatment are key elements for global human health and aquatic biodiversity. Scenarios showed an improvement of sanitation but unimproved sanitation will not disappear before 2070. Wastewater treatment will also improve but not in all regions of the world. Emissions of pathogens will only slightly reduce, although local emissions will reduce but sewer emissions downstream will increase. Nutrient emissions will increase by 50% for nitrogen and 70% for phosphorus. The SDG targets SDG6.2 on sanitation and 6.3 on wastewater will not be met in 2030 but much later depending on the ambition.
Based on a database with 200 countries, historical trends show an overall improvement of sanitation and wastewater treatment between 2000 and 2015, but this improvement is inequal between countries. Due to population growth, the number of persons without sanitation increased. Most countries without wastewater treatment in 2000, didn’t improve their wastewater treatment till 2015.
Future outlook showed an improvement of sanitation and wastewater treatment
A future outlook was based on the relation between economic growth, population growth and storylines of the scenarios. Future analysis for sanitation and wastewater treatment showed an increase in sewerage connection and wastewater treatment. The effects of sanitation and wastewater treatment were calculated as emissions of waterborne pathogens and nutrients. Local pathogen emissions decrease as a result of less unimproved sanitation, but downstream pathogen emissions increase with an increase of sewer systems. Nutrient emissions to surface water increase overall as a result of an increase of sewer systems without sufficient wastewater treatment.
SDG 6 will not be met by 2030
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, clean water and sanitation, has two main targets. SDG 6.2, to achieve universal and equitable access to improved sanitation and to phase out unimproved sanitation and SDG 6.3, to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater. Both SDG targets will not be met in 2030, but much later depending on the investments in sewer systems and wastewater treatment
- Publication title
- Sanitation and wastewater treatment scenarios and effects on global water quality and SDG 6
- Publication date
- 21 December 2023
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