Sustainable development goal 6: two gaps in the race for indicators

  • Lisa GuppyEmail author
  • Praem Mehta
  • Manzoor Qadir
Review Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Water Resource Management and Hydrology


Monitoring national-level progress of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 through internationally agreed indicators has been the focus of intense scrutiny and considerable resourcing by international organisations and national governments, suggesting a ‘race for indicators’ has begun. However, in the eyes of many water experts, SDG 6 indicators are far from perfect. It is important to systematically identify and prioritise the gaps and weaknesses in the SDG 6 indicator framework to address them effectively. This paper identifies two potential gaps: first, between the aspirations captured in SDG 6 targets and what will be measured by the relevant indicators; and second, between what is being measured in ‘means of implementation’ indicators and what the key means of implementation achievements of many countries are expected to be under SDG 6. Three existing mechanisms—complementary indicators, international support and an integrated approach—are briefly described, and it is proposed that they may potentially be harnessed to assist national governments to address the two types of gaps identified for SDG 6. There is also an opportunity for stakeholders to help erase the gaps in a comprehensive review of SDG indicators, though how open and participatory the full review process will be is not yet clear.


2030 agenda Sustainable development goal 6 Monitoring SDG indicators WASH 



The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is funded by the Government of Canada. The SDG Policy Support System mentioned was developed in partnership by UNU-INWEH, the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development, the Korea Environment Corporation (Keco) and the Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United Nations Environment ProgrammeBangkokThailand
  2. 2.United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)HamiltonCanada

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