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 and Spanish.

What is being done?

Policy brief on climate change and water

Policy brief on climate change and water

Climate change increases variability in the water cycle and makes extreme weather events more frequent, which threatens billions of people’s access to water and sanitation services and places huge stress on ecosystems. Improved water management, including sanitation,...

Why nations must prepare for natural disasters

Why nations must prepare for natural disasters

Countries are declaring states of emergency while climate change is increasing variability in weather patterns, and other risks such as financial shocks are likely. Therefore, the need to build the general resilience of populations and prepare for these intersecting...

COVID-19 and adequate sanitation

COVID-19 and adequate sanitation

COVID19 pandemic: a global threat. What else should we pay attention to? Many infectious diseases are easily transmitted when people have inadequate accesses to toilets, when faeces are insufficiently treated and disposed of, and when personal and domestic hygiene are...

Want to help fight COVID-19?

Want to help fight COVID-19?

Because handwashing is an important way to reduce transmission, the response to COVID-19 intersects with issues around global access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). This community page on the Water Action Hub seeks to highlight the connections between...

UN World Water Development Report

UN World Water Development Report

The 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report was released in conjunction with World Water Day on the 22nd March 2020 under the topic ‘Water and Climate Change’. The report stresses that climate change’s impact on the availability, quality, and quantity of...

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