World Water Day, Chlorine and Sustainable Development

World Chlorine Council Contributes Viewpoint Paper on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Goals to Copenhagen Consensus Center

waterandsanitationAs part of the post-2015 United Nations development agenda, a new set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) has been submitted to the General Assembly by a UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development and are now being considered as part of broader post-2015 discussions.  The new goals will be established upon the foundation of the 2000-2015 UN Millennium Development Goals.  Proposed goal #6 has particular significance to World Water Day 2015, celebrated on March 22:  “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

As part of their effort to evaluate the costs and benefits of the proposed goals, the Copenhagen Consensus Center produced a “Water and Sanitation Assessment Paper” concluding that “Regardless of location and income, providing water and sanitation passes a cost-benefit test,” but that the greatest relative benefit comes from serving rural communities and the poorest populations.  An invited Viewpoint Paper by the World Chlorine Council notes that as part of safely managing drinking water services, a low but measurable chlorine level (single digit or less parts per million), known as a “chlorine residual,” is an effective indicator of the microbial safety of drinking water.  The authors make the point that for as long as it is detectable in stored or delivered water, chlorine provides an ongoing barrier to new contamination that could spread waterborne illness, such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis A.

Chlorine-based disinfectants are strong allies in the global effort to achieve safe drinking water and sanitation goals.  Water and sanitation goals contribute to several of the other proposed SDGs as well, including ending poverty (Goal #1), ensuring healthy lives and well-being (Goal #3), achieving gender equality (Goal #5) and promoting economic growth and productive, decent work (Goal #8).

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