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International Year of Sanitation (2008)

The General Assembly of the United Nations through its Resolution A/C.2/61/L.16/Rev.1 declared 2008 as an International Year of Sanitation (IYS) and requested UN DESA to serve as the focal point for the year to develop, in a timely manner, relevant proposals on possible activities on all levels, including possible sources of funding.

Sanitation as a theme was discussed at the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development for the first time. In the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, sanitation-related goals are addressed under the section on Poverty Eradication. The JPOI target to halve the number of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015 is closely related to the Millennium Development Goal of reducing, by 2015, by half the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water.

The other goals and targets related to sanitation reflected in JPOI include:

  • Ensure, by the year 2025, that sanitation coverage is achieved in all rural areas;
  • Improve sanitation in public institutions, especially schools;
  • Promote safe hygiene practices;
  • Promote affordable and socially and culturally acceptable technologies and practices;
  • Integrate sanitation into water resources management strategies;
  • Develop innovative financing and partnership mechanisms and
  • Strengthen existing information networks.

In the pre-WSSD work of the Commission for Sustainable Development, sanitation issues were mainly addressed in relation to waste. Sanitation involves the adequate management and disposal of different types of wastes with a view to minimizing harmful effects to human health and the environment.