UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday praised India’s progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular the pursuit of Sanitation for All and Affordable and Clean Energy, which featured heavily during day-two of his official visit to the country.
Speaking at the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention in New Delhi, Mr. Guterres noted Gandhi’s long record of advocacy and action on the issue, adding that the decision to begin marking the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth – which takes place on 2 October next year – with the Convention, was a “fitting tribute to this great human being and example to us all.”
An estimated 2.3 billion people, said Mr. Guterres, still do not have basic sanitation facilities. Almost 1 billion defecate in the open, a practice that “poses a serious threat to children, contributing to diarrhoea and to malnutrition and stunting that has a lifelong impact.”
The UN chief outlined some of the many consequences and risks of poor sanitation, including disease, stunting and indignity, and pointed out that it “exacerbates inequalities between men and women, rich and poor, city and countryside. And it has major implications for human rights and human dignity.”
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