MIA in planetary health: where in the world is water and sanitation in climate action?

When and Where

Monday, March 27, 2023 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Room 409
Stewart Building
149 College Street, 4th Floor and Zoom


Dr. Sarah Dickin


This lecture is hybrid.

Location: Room 409, 149 College Street, 4th floor 

Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 831 7390 9397
Passcode: 088997


Water, sanitation, and hygiene services (WASH) are human rights as well as the foundation of health and wellbeing. Climate change presents a range of risks for WASH, disproportionately impacting populations made vulnerable by structural conditions. Floods damage water systems and toilets, leading to environmental contamination and the (forced) use of unsafe water sources. Water scarcity and droughts increase water collection time (primarily a burden on women and girls), damage water-based sanitation systems, and result in reduced access to and use of hygiene services and activities. At the same time, WASH services contribute to pollution and climate emissions due to the decomposition of organic waste and the energy required to provide drinking water and wastewater services. Despite the critical importance of these linkages, there is limited systematic knowledge on how WASH has been included in climate action. Starting at the global level, Dr Dickin will present analysis of how sanitation has thus far been included in climate policy, focusing on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and associated challenges for the use of climate finance. Moving to the local level, she will discuss tensions between development and adaptation related to water, drawing on case studies in West Africa, and demonstrating the need to move beyond ‘climate-proofing’ infrastructure to consider gender transformative practices. Finally, she will discuss how this links to current sector advances at the UN Water Conference, the first UN conference on freshwater since 1977, taking place in March 2023.


Sarah Dickin is a Senior Research Fellow and Team Lead on Sanitation and Health at the Stockholm Environment Institute, a global research and policy institute frequently ranked as the world’s top think tank on environmental policy issues. Dr. Dickin is also affiliated with the Sustainability Learning and Research Centre, in the Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Sweden. As a health geographer her research focuses on the intersection of environment, health, and inequalities in low-income contexts. Two ongoing projects include measuring links between water insecurity, climate change, and women’s empowerment in Africa and Asia, and better managing urban organic waste streams and complicated plastics in sanitation systems in the context of the circular economy. She holds a PhD in Geography, and a B.Sc. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from McMaster University, and a graduate diploma from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. She works closely with knowledge translation and policy processes in the water sector, including representing research organisations in Sanitation and Water for All, a multi-stakeholder partnership to promote achievement of SDG 6 on water and sanitation.

Contact Information

Stella Kyriakakis


149 College Street, 4th Floor and Zoom