The Importance of the Sanitation Economy in the WASH Sector & at World Water Week

22nd August, 2018

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are much tougher and more detailed targets than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were from 2000-2015.Therefore, we  - the sanitation community - must raise our level of activity, involve new people and sectors, as well as develop new ideas to achieve safely-managed sanitation for all by 2030. 

Several exciting ideas exist in the urban sanitation sector, most notably being:

        - City-wide inclusive sanitation approach, which calls for     all sanitation actors in cities to work together to develop comprehensive approaches to sanitation improvement that encompass long-term planning, technical innovation, institutional reforms and financial mobilization.

      - The shift of emphasis towards on-site and container-based sanitation: a system where toilets collect human excreta in sealable, removable containers/cartridges that are transported to treatment facilities when full (evidenced by the creation of the Container Based Sanitation Alliance) and 

    -   The re-use of ‘toilet resources’ into product outputs such as energy and fertilizer, which is in line with the Circular Sanitation Economy.

The Toilet Board Coalition has coined the ‘Sanitation Economy’ as the term and platform that covers these new exciting ideas. Either public or private sector enterprises can implement these innovative concepts that exist within the sanitation sector, but private sector companies have several advantages in terms of their entrepreneurial mindset, speed of response and access to equity and loan finance.

Even in this ‘Internet of Everything’ age that is characterised by increased technological prowess, face-to-face meetings are crucial at the start of a working relationship, especially for organisations that are new to a sector: for example investors and bankers that are being introduced to the sanitation sector.

International conferences are excellent places to meet, and World Water Week in Stockholm, which is just around the corner, is the best of them because it attracts regular attendance by the key people in our sector.This conference also offers an opportunity to meet major sanitation players such as the Toilet Board Coalition’s new Steering Committee member, Veolia. I believe that the Sanitation Economy has much to offer all organisations that work in development in general and in sanitation in particular, because it can help them to achieve their goals from both a social good and a return on investment perspective. I encourage those attending this year’s World Water Week to attend the Toilet Board Coalition’s session with the Container Based Sanitation Alliance on August 28th and or to visit Toilet Board’s Cheryl Hicks and Veolia’s Laurent Auguste for their SIWI Sofa Session on August 29th to learn more about the relevance of the Sanitation Economy to the WASH sector in effectively and efficiently achieving SDG 6. 

- Jon Lane, Former head of the WSSCC and Toilet Board Coalition Vice-Chair