140 million people in the pan-European region lack access to clean water. Improving urban water supply and sanitation is fundamental in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. The UNECE/WHO Europe Protocol on Water and Health promotes policies to increase access to drinking water and sanitation for all residents and reduce water-related diseases. Between 2010 and 2015, over 19 million people gained access to a basic drinking water source following the entry into force of the Protocol.
The Protocol provides a framework to translate into practice the human rights to water and sanitation and to implement SDG 6.
Particular emphasis is placed on equitable access to drinking water and provision of sanitation for everyone, addressing three critical factors: reducing geographical disparities; overcoming the barriers faced by vulnerable and marginalized groups; and addressing affordability concerns.