Sustainable sanitation and climate change

What have toilets got to do with climate change?
The effects of climate change threaten sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants. For instance, floodwater can damage toilets and spread human waste into water supplies, food crops and people’s homes. These incidents, which are becoming more frequent as climate change worsens, cause public health emergencies and degrade the environment.

How do toilets protect our health?
4.2 billion people live without access to safely managed sanitation. Instead they often use unreliable, inadequate toilets or practise open defecation. Untreated human waste gets out into the environment and spreads deadly and chronic diseases. Sustainable sanitation systems, combined with the facilities and knowledge to practise good hygiene, are a strong defence against COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks.

How can toilets help fight climate change?
Globally, 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. Wastewater and sludge from toilets contain valuable water, nutrients and energy. Sustainable sanitation systems also make productive use of waste to safely boost agriculture and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

What does a sustainable sanitation system look like?
Sustainable sanitation begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting.

The waste then gets stored in a tank, which can be emptied later by a collection service, or transported away by pipework.

The next stage is treatment and safe disposal. Safe reuse of human waste helps save water, reduces and captures greenhouse gas emissions for energy production, and can provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients.

WORLD TOILET DAY 2020
TOOLKIT

The World Toilet Day 2020 toolkit contains everything you need to inspire your friends, family and colleagues:

• Q&A on sustainable sanitation and climate change
• Key campaign messages
• Top facts

 

Download the toolkit in
Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish and
Chinese.

What is being done?

State of the World’s Sanitation report

State of the World’s Sanitation report

For the first time WHO and UNICEF bring together the data on sanitation coverage and investment, and how it impacts health, economies, and the environment. Citing evidence on what works from successful countries and global guidelines, WHO and UNICEF call for strong...

Just launched: Connecting the Unconnected report

Just launched: Connecting the Unconnected report

There is a reoccurring challenge faced in cities around the world where, despite the immediate proximity of trunk sewerage infrastructure, too many households choose not to connect to the sewers for various social, economic or related reasons. In addition, service...

COVID-19 and the human rights to water and sanitation

COVID-19 and the human rights to water and sanitation

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, together with 22 other mandate-holders, have made a joint statement underscoring the vital need to guarantee access to water and sanitation during the pandemic, particularly to those in...

Modernizing wastewater treatment in Sri Lanka

Modernizing wastewater treatment in Sri Lanka

Sewerage management is more than just ‘flushing it away’ – waste must be contained, treated and disposed of safely. In a blog by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Andreas Ulrich explains that in many countries ageing infrastructure and growing urban...

Colour my human rights to water and sanitation

Colour my human rights to water and sanitation

To celebrate the 10th birthday of the human rights to water and sanitation, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation has released two children's storybooks, also available as colouring books.  Children are encouraged to colour...

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