The monitoring of progress towards SDG 6 is a means to achieve the goal. High-quality data help policy- and decision-makers at all levels of government 

  • to identify challenges and opportunities, 
  • to set priorities for more effective and efficient implementation, 
  • to communicate progress and ensure accountability, and generate political, public and private sector support for further investment.

Global follow-up and review of progress towards SDG 6 are primarily based on national official data sources, compiled and validated by United Nations custodian agencies. The latest global 'data drive' took place in 2020, resulting in status updates on nine of the global indicators for SDG 6. 

Download here: Summary Progress Update 2021: SDG 6 — water and sanitation for all

The latest available progress updates on all SDG 6 global indicators are as follows; 

1. Progress on Wastewater Treatment – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.3.1 tracks the proportion of the total, industrial and household wastewater flows safely treated in compliance with national or local standards. The household component includes both sewage and faecal sludge, treated on-site or off-site, with linkages to indicator 6.2.1a on sanitation.

This report presents the global status on wastewater treatment and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.3 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.3.1 (total wastewater flows as well as flows from industrial sources and households).

2. Progress on Ambient Water Quality – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.3.2 monitors the proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality, as per national and/or sub-national water quality standards and based on measurements of five water quality parameters that inform on the most common pressures on water quality at the global level.

This report presents the global status on ambient water quality and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.3 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.3.2.

3. Progress on Water-Use Efficiency – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.4.1 tracks the change in water-use efficiency over time, measured as the ratio of dollar value added to the volume of water used. It considers water use by all economic activities, with a focus on agriculture, industry and the service sector. Increasing water-use efficiency over time means decoupling a country's economic growth from its water use; in other words, the economy can continue to grow without needing more water.

This report presents the global status on water-use efficiency and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.4 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.4.1.

4. Progress on Level of Water Stress – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.4.2 tracks how much freshwater is being withdrawn by all economic activities, compared to the total renewable freshwater resources available. When a territory withdraws 25 per cent or more of its renewable freshwater resources it is said to be 'water-stressed'. The monitoring of environmental water requirements encourages consideration for ecosystem health when available water resources are being allocated.

This report presents the global status on the level of water stress and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.4 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.4.2.

5. Progress on Integrated Water Resources Management – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.5.1 tracks the degree of integrated water resources management (IWRM) implementation, by assessing the four key dimensions of IWRM: enabling environment, institutions and participation, management instruments and financing. Sustainable, integrated water resources management is vital for long-term social, economic and environmental well-being – the three pillars of the 2030 Agenda – and helps to balance competing water demands from across society and the economy.

This report presents the global status on IWRM and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.5 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.5.1.

Also download the executive summary: here

6. Progress on Water-related Ecosystems – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.6.1 tracks change over time in water-related ecosystems. Earth observations are used to determine changes to surface water bodies, such as lakes, large rivers, flooded wetlands and reservoirs. Recent advances in analysing satellite imagery have also enabled global data sets on lake water quality, coastal mangroves and inland wetland areas. Knowing if and why changes in the extent of water-related ecosystems are occurring is important for water managers to ensure that ecosystem services continue to be provided.

This report presents the global status on water-related ecosystems and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.6 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.6.1.

Also download the executive summary: here

7. Progress on Transboundary Water Cooperation – 2021 Update

Indicator 6.5.2 looks at the area of a country within transboundary basins and assesses the extent to which that area is covered by operational cooperation arrangements. Transboundary basins are river, lake and aquifer systems shared between two or more countries. 

This report presents the global status on transboundary cooperation and acceleration needs to achieve target 6.5 by 2030, based on the latest data on indicator 6.5.2.

Summary Infographics of Progress Reports