This year, World Water Day (WWD) is about accelerating global change and focusing on change within Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: creating access to safe water and sanitation for all. In this description, “safe” is a shorthand for “safely managed” drinking water, which means drinking water that is on premises, available when needed and free from contamination.

Access to safe water and sanitation remains a big issue. It's estimated that 2 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water and almost half of the world’s population (3.6 billion) don’t have access to sanitation (WHO/UNICEF 2021). 

ESR helps work toward SDG 6 through all of our water science, from research about groundwater contamination, to our work to improve wastewater treatment, to our water quality testing services. This World Water Day (WWD), we're shining a light on ESR’s work in Pacific Island communities to provide scientific support to help establish safe and accessible water and sanitation.

We interviewed ESR scientists Dr Sarah Nelson and Dr Matt Ashworth, to learn about how their work directly addresses SDG 6, and what gives them hope for the future. 

Dr Sarah Nelson's PhD looked at water management and health in Fiji, setting her up well for her current role creating a database of water data for multiple Pacific Island countries.  Matt Ashworth has spent more than a decade supporting Pacific Island communities to manage water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions in the face of increasingly extreme weather events.

Read what they have to say about the importance of safe water and sanitation, and the impact that climate change is having. 

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World Water Day 2023 waves

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  • Water science