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Volume 27 | No.11 | November 2023

World Toilet Day 2023: Accelerating Change


There is a global sanitation crisis and the world is working too slowly to solve it. There is an urgent need to accelerate change.

The world is seriously off track to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6: to ensure “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030. We are on a countdown, with less than seven years left to correct the course. We have to accomplish this goal with a sense of urgency, building on the global momentum garnered by the ambitious UN 2023 Water Conference.

What is the aim of World Toilet Day?

World Toilet Day, commemorated on 19 November every year, is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve SDG 6.

Today, 3.5 billion people live without a safe toilet, including 419 million who practice open defecation. A “safe toilet” is shorthand for a safely managed sanitation system, which means a toilet not shared with other households, that either treats or disposes of human waste on site, stores it safely to be emptied and treated off site, or connects to a functioning sewer and treatment plant.

Accelerating change

World Toilet Day 2023 is about getting the world on track by taking much faster action. Governments and big institutions must be accountable for delivering on their promises. And every one of us must do what we can – however small – to help speed up progress.

What is the plan of action?

As we approach the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2023 stands as a crucial turning point. The latest data show we must work five times faster to meet our targets on sanitation.

In the recently released “SDG 6 Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation 2023”, the UN system shares a blueprint for accelerating efforts – we need to increase financing, fill the data gaps, invest in the water and sanitation workforce, boost innovation and maximize cooperation.

Back in March, the world united at the UN 2023 Water Conference and produced the Water Action Agenda. The Conference generated a global momentum on accelerating the progress towards water and sanitation for all. The Water Action Agenda is the collection of over 800 commitments on sanitation and water from governments, companies, organizations and other institutions.

On top of this, over 7,000 members of the public have made their own promises via the Be The Change campaign.

Accountability is key to acceleration. What we need now is much faster action – for everyone to deliver on their promises.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Go to and choose one or more of the sanitation-related actions and then download your list of personal commitments.

Photo credit: UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe