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Improving governance for water and health

Support for implementing the 2030 Agenda through setting targets and implementing measures 

Target settings

This area of work aims at improving governance for water and health in Parties to the Protocol and other States through reinforcing the implementation of the core provisions of the Protocol on target setting and reporting (articles 6 and 7).

Under this area, Protocol Parties and other States set, monitor and regularly review intersectoral targets on water, sanitation and health. Targets are developed through a participatory process and following an in-depth baseline analysis, which allows to tailor the objectives to the countries’ priorities, needs and socioeconomic and environmental health situations. They are accompanied by realistic action plans that outline time-bound measures, institutions responsible for implementation and strategies for mobilizing financial resources.

Furthermore, countries monitor the achievement of the targets set and report on their progress to the Task Force on Target Setting and Reporting and, every three years, to the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol through the submission of national summary reports. The Protocol’s reporting cycles are an important data hub, containing publicly available information on water, sanitation and health from across the pan-European region.

Linkages to the 2030 Agenda and other international commitments – The target areas under article 6 of the Protocol are linked to all Sustainable Development Goals’ targets relevant to water, sanitation, hygiene and health and to the commitments of the Ostrava Declaration on Environment and Health. This programme area therefore supports the attainment of the 2030 Agenda and the Ostrava Declaration’s objectives at the pan-European level.

Achievements and tools developed in this area

Protocol’s reporting cycles
In the reporting cycles, countries collect and evaluate data through the use of common indicators related to access to water and sanitation services, water quality, occurrence of water-related diseases and effective management, protection and use of freshwater resources. The reports also provide information on thematic focus areas, such as water-related disease surveillance and response systems, WASH in institutional settings, safe management of drinking water supply and equitable access to water and sanitation.
4th reporting cycle

The fourth reporting cycle under the Protocol on Water and Health took place in 2019. At its fifth session (Belgrade, 19-21 November 2019), the Meeting of the Parties evaluated progress in implementing the Protocol on the basis of the summary reports provided by Parties. Reports reveal progress with implementation of the Protocol, with a growing number of countries reporting on implementing some of their targets, in particular with regard to legal framework revision. Most of the targets set by countries relate to the work on safe and efficient management of sanitation and equitable access. Climate change impacts are also increasingly addressed. Drinking water quality has improved compared to the third reporting cycle, but most countries do not provide segregated data for urban/rural areas. Access to water and sanitation has also generally increased, but far fewer people have access to sanitation than to drinking water.

3rd reporting cycle

The third reporting cycle was held in 2015/2016. At its fourth session (Geneva, 14-16 November 2016), the Meeting of the Parties evaluated progress in implementing the Protocol on the basis of the summary reports provided by Parties. Reports reveal enhanced implementation of the Protocol, with a growing number of countries reporting on implementing or having reached some of their targets. Intersectoral coordination at national and subnational levels is at place in the majority of countries. Countries increasingly start to focus on capacity building as well as on infrastructure development which requires significant investment. Useful approaches such as developing action plans to implement the targets set and using country surveys for GLAAS for baseline analysis under the Protocol are reported.

2nd reporting cycle

The second reporting cycle was held in 2012/2013. The third session of the Meeting of the Parties, that took place on the 25-27 November 2013, evaluated progress in implementing the Protocol on the basis of the summary reports provided by Parties. The outcomes of the reporting cycle demonstrated increased compliance with the guidelines and template for summary reports and improved overall quality of submitted reports as compared with the pilot reporting exercise conducted in 2009−2010.

1st reporting cycle

The first reporting cycle conducted under the Protocol in 2009/2010 demonstrated that remarkable progress has been done by Parties and substantial experience is available. At the same time several challenges remained, in particular related to difficulties with cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination of activities among different authorities responsible for management of water resources, water supply, sanitation and health; as well as prioritization of activities, and involvement of the public in the implementation of the Protocol.

  • Carrying out tailored capacity-building national and sub-regional activities, including under the framework of National Policy Dialogues.

Future work
Under the Protocol’s programme of work for 2020-2022 , activities carried out in this area will:
  • Support Parties and other States in setting targets in accordance with article 6 and in establishing action plans and implementing measures to achieve the targets set;
  • Support Parties and other States in translating the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and the Ostrava Declaration into concrete national targets and action;
  • Promote exchange of experiences and good practices on the common challenges, approaches and benefits of implementing the Protocol at the regional and sub-regional levels;
  • Promote public participation in the implementation of the Protocol;
  • Ensure coordination with activities in other areas of work to facilitate the translation of their findings and recommendations into targets and measures
  • Strengthen Parties and other States’ reporting capacity, including through aligning reporting under the Protocol with the 2030 Agenda monitoring process.
Last update date: January 20, 2023