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Duke-UNICEF Virtual Forum on Social Innovation Deepens Conversation Surrounding WASH

In the second annual Duke-UNICEF Virtual Forum on Social Innovation, representatives from academia, INGOs, business, and social enterprise gathered to deepen the conversation around the sustainable development goals and social innovation. 

This year’s focus was on Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. Keynote speakers Tom Slaymaker from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) and Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF’s Associate Director for WASH, highlighted the need for continued work increasing access to clean drinking water and sanitation despite much progress worldwide. With billions of people still lacking essential water and sanitation services, one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, two in five people don’t have basic handwashing facilities, and more than 673 million still practice open defecation (figures from the World Health Organization). 

Naylor said, “Achieving universal coverage by 2030 will require a quadrupling of current rates of progress in safely managed drinking water and sanitation and basic hygiene services.” 

Progress toward SDG 6 is the focus of the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator, housed at Duke in partnership with UNICEF, which selects promising social entrepreneurs with game-changing solutions to challenges around the world. DUIA social entrepreneurs are showing how social innovation can save lives and create progress toward the SDGs—from simple hand-washing stations, to soap made from rescued and recycled industry run-off, to the last mile distribution of WASH products, to replacing open-defecation with household and public latrines. 

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