Together in the fight against poverty
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

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The challenge

1.2 billion people still do not have access to drinking water. Twice as many do not have access to toilets, latrines or improved sanitation.

Excessive human exploitation of natural resources affects the environment all over the world – every year an area of forest the size of Portugal is cut down!

The poorest people who directly depend on natural resources for their daily subsistence are most vulnerable. Also, changes in temperature and rainfall can spread diseases such as malaria and cholera to new areas, and storms and rising sea levels can force entire populations to move, and cause a lot of damage to infrastructure.

Our plan:

  • to promote sustainable development through country policies and programmes, and reverse the losses to the environment;
  • to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water;
  • to achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million people living in slums.

How are we doing?

how are we doing

The world is on track to achieve the safe water target: 87% of the world population now has access to drinking water. However, the target for sanitation is still a long way off. To reach it, 1.4 billion more people must by 2015 must have access to toilets and other forms of sanitation such as wastewater disposal.

Our action

The EU is the world’s strongest defender of a sustainable environment. The EU helps the developing countries to better manage and protect their resources by supporting efforts like:

  • preserving biodiversity, forests, fishing resources, water and energy;
  • fighting climate change and natural disasters;
  • developing scientific and technological competences.

One example is the EU’s action plan to support forest governance in Asia, a region particularly affected by illegal logging. The EU funds action on the ground that strengthens regional cooperation in the fight against the illegal trade in timber and wood products.

Quick facts

  • Only 0.7% of the world’s oceans have been put under protection
  • €2.4 billion each year – how much the EU gives to fight climate change in developing countries

From the field

Building wells in Kaisut in Northern Kenya © European Union, 1995-2010

Improving sanitation conditions for slum dwellers in Kenya

In the Mukuru slums, the EU has helped set up blocks, with combined toilet, bathing, laundry and water selling facilities.

Man testing water availability from a newly constructed well in Kerkebet in Anseba, Eritrea © European Union, 1995-2010

Towns water and sanitation project in Uganda

Many towns in Uganda suffer from poor water supply and lack of sewerage systems. To tackle these problems, the EC and Ugandan Directorate of Water Development jointly developed the Mid-western Towns Water & Sanitation Project in 2001, for the towns of Mubende, Hoima and Masindi.


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15/06/2012