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The role of engineers in the effort to achieve SDG 6

The objective of this initiative is to prepare a white paper that provides an overview of the contribution of engineering to the effort to achieve the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 and discuss what more they should be doing, including expanding their horizons beyond the confines of their traditional engineering education and the importance of embracing a human rights-based approach. In addition, it explores how the modern paradigm of engineering, which inherently integrates nature-based approaches, contributes and enables national stakeholders to achieve the SDG’s through gender-responsive, human rights-based approaches.

This initiative grew out of the discussion in an open space session proposed by the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) during the 32nd UN-Water meeting on 29 January 2020 in Rome.

Expected impact

This initiative is expected to help raise awareness about the role of engineers in helping achieve the water-related SDGs, it also aims at helping engineers overcome the tendency (common in the past) to operate in their own world developing technical solutions that sometimes did not take into consideration the views and concerns of all stakeholders. In this problem-oriented approach, it is important that engineers engage in a dialog with the communities they serve and be responsive by adapting their designs to their needs. The dialogue with communities can be facilitated by international organizations or humanitarian agencies, which should step up for a more fruitful engagement with the engineers, having already the knowledge of what is needed at the field level. Mechanisms should be in place to ensure the voice and agency of women to contribute to and be consulted in such community dialogues. Engineers will only be able to contribute meaningfully to the achievement of SDG 6 if they employ a human rights-based approach.


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Goal 6
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Goal 11
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Goal 13
Goal 15
Goal 17
In-kind contribution
Contributions to the preparation of the document by representatives of the partner organizations listed above
Basic information
Start: 29 January, 2020
Completion: 29 September, 2020
International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) (Civil society organization)
International Association of Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), International Migration Organization (IOM), WaterLex, UN-Habitat, World Council of Civil Engineers (WCCE), UNCHR the UN Refugee Agency, UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Women, Women for Water Partnership ( WfWP), International Capacity Development Network for Sustainable Water Management (Cap-Net), International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS)
Initiative focused on COVID-19 pandemic response, prevention and recovery efforts
Geographical coverage
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficiaries
Contact information
Angelos Findikakis, IAHR Liaison to UN Water, anfindik@bechtel.com,
Madrid, Spain (IAHR Secretariat)
United Nations