Launch of the E-book Sustainable Sanitation Systems: Health, Environment and Governance Challenges: The Case of Human Rights-Based Policy Reform in Alternative Wastewater Management Strategies

This report published by WaterLex and UN Environment was launched at Stockholm during the world Water Week during a seminar organised by UN Environment on “Opportunities and limits to water pollution regulations”.


Today, about 2.5 billion people do not use an improved sanitation facility, and about 1 billion people practise open defaecation which is one of the main causes of drinking water pollution and diarrhoea incidences. There is therefore an urgent need for a paradigm shift towards affordable technological alternatives which should be tailored to local and specific contexts.

An option for low income countries and rural areas, is to promote wastewater treatment in ponds and lagoons, as well as the utilisation of the treated effluents for crop irrigation and aquaculture. The valuation of faecal sludge-derived products can offset treatment cost and act as an incentive to create sustainable wastewater treatment and services. Developing market-based approaches with business models can also provide long-term social benefit and profit in a sustainable manner. However, wastewater recycling and safe water reuse must be strictly regulated; because wastewater, including when treated, is highly enriched in hazardous pollutants.

The Sustainable Development Agenda stresses the importance of “leaving no one behind”, which is grounded in the human rights framework. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) furthermore addresses some normative criteria and principles of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. In fact, ensuring that everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities is fundamental for human dignity and privacy, but also for protecting water resources, and public health. Integrating the Human Right to Sanitation into policies, regulations, and institutional framework, could therefore be used to increase the access to safely managed sanitation services and achievement of SDG6. The governments therefore need to integrate their national and international commitments for improving access to sanitation into policies, institutional framework, action plans and budgets.

To download the report, click Wastewater report – WaterLex & UNEP

To purchase printed copies (30 euros) or for more information, please contact Jamie Low,