Access to sanitation, especially, is crucial for global equality, and for the rights and needs of women and girls
Ahead of Global Citizen Festival in 2015, global citizens campaigned to secure a commitment from Sweden to improve access to sanitation for 60 million people by 2030.
From July 2015, global citizens sent the Swedish government 40,000 emails asking them to help provide clean water and sanitation. In addition, global citizens also sent voicemails that were presented to the Swedish International Development Cooperation as a video message during World Water Week. Finally, Global Citizen Festival Curator Chris Martin personally wrote to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, highlighting the link between gender equality and access to water and sanitation.
Global Citizens took these actions to stand up for the 2.4 billion people who do not have access to clean toilets, and almost 1 billion people who defecate in the open. They targeted Sweden as the world’s first feminist government because poor water and sanitation affect children, and girls and women the most, globally spending 200 million hours a day obtaining water. Therefore, a commitment on water and sanitation resonated strongly with the Swedish government.
Behind the scenes, Global Citizen worked with partners like WSSCC, the World Bank, WaterAid and UNICEF to ensure the campaigning was aligned, as well as securing support from influencers in the corporate world to see a commitment from Sweden at Festival.
Access to sanitation, especially, is crucial for global equality, and for the rights and needs of women and girls. So as a feminist, I (Prime Minister) make this pledge: “Over the next 15 years, Sweden’s almost 10 million inhabitants will support efforts to improve access to sanitation for 60 million people throughout the world,” said Stefan.
Sweden is still committed to quality sanitation as part of the broader health picture, and as part of their response to the global refugee crisis, although they have capped their ODA budget response to refugees to a maximum of 30 per cent to ensure the majority of funds are directed to the world’s poorest people.
“Our support to schools and education, to LGBT activists, to clean water, toilets in refugee camps, to specific initiatives for girls and women, food parcels to refugees. I am glad that there are many in Sweden who raises their voices for us to take even greater responsibility to make the world better,” said the prime minister.
• By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
• By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
• Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
Water and Sewage Disposal
In Sweden, water supply and sewage disposal are by law a municipal responsibility. Under municipal control and with financial support from the state, intensive construction of treatment plants was carried out during the 1960s and 70s. Today, 95 per cent of the wastewater is treated both biologically and chemically and as much as 54 per cent also goes through special nitrogen removal. Water supply and sewage disposal infrastructure for municipal use encompass more than 2,000 waterworks, 67,000 kilometres of water pipes, around 2,000 sewage treatment plants and 92,000 kilometres of sewers. In total, some 6,000 people work in the sector.
Don’t waste waste!
Sweden is setting an example for the rest of the world, when it comes to waste management. Less than 1 per cent of Sweden’s household waste ends up in landfills. Of the 4.4 million tons of household waste produced by the nation every year, 2.2 million are converted into energy by a process called waste-to-energy (WTE).
Before this process starts, home and business owners filter and separate the waste into ‘hazardous wastes’ and ‘recyclable material’, which are then sent to different waste-management systems, like incinerators and recycling, and a small amount to landfills.
The furnaces in WTE plants are loaded with garbage, and then burnt to generate steam which is further used to spin turbines in order to produce electricity.
The waste that is recycled is essentially used as a resource, converted into district heating, electricity, biogas, and biofertilizer.
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