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Nov 19 is World Toilet Day, thanks to S’pore

SINGAPORE — Mark the calendar: Nov 19 has been designated as World Toilet Day by the United Nations, thanks to Singapore.

Nov 19 is World Toilet Day, thanks to S’pore

Students painted toilet seats to celebrate World Toilet Day on Nov 19, 2008. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Mark the calendar: Nov 19 has been designated as World Toilet Day by the United Nations, thanks to Singapore.

Tabling its first-ever resolution at the UN General Assembly yesterday, Singapore called on member states to commemorate the date as part of a pledge to tackle the global sanitation crisis. The “Sanitation For All” resolution, which had 120 co-sponsors, was adopted by consensus.

The Republic had championed for the UN’s endorsement of World Toilet Day — an initiative started in 2001 by a non-governmental organisation here, the World Toilet Organisation — to draw greater attention to the severe challenges in sanitation globally.

According to the UN, some 2.5 billion people around the world had poor access to proper sanitation last year.

Of these, 1.1 billion still practise open defecation. To tackle the issue, the resolution, which is non-binding, urges all member states to put in place policies for improving access to sanitation among the poor and eradicate open defecation.

All countries are also urged to accelerate progress in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to sanitation.

The MDGs are a set of eight international development goals that the UN established in 2000, which includes ensuring environmental sustainability.

Multinational companies, international organisations, schools and other stakeholders are also encouraged to “redouble their efforts, through scaled-up ground-level actions ... to promote greater public awareness of the serious developmental, health and social problems caused by the lack of adequate sanitation”, said a joint statement by Singapore’s Foreign Affairs and Environment and Water Resources ministries.

Noting that the UN is formulating the post-2015 Development Agenda to replace the MDGs, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said Singapore hopes that the resolution will “focus the attention of the international community in making a positive impact on the lives of people all around the world”.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan added that Singapore’s work in improving sanitation has “made a major difference” for public health and hygiene.

Plans for how Singapore will commemorate World Toilet Day will be announced later.

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