UN-Habitat’s vision is “a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world”. UN-Habitat works with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities. UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination and poverty.

In line with the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat seeks contribute to increased equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, improved sanitation and sustainable management of water resources, including wastewater treatment, recycling and safe reuse. It does so by facilitating policy dialogue, sharing good practices, by providing technical assistance for the development and implementation of field demonstration projects, and by supporting local, national and global data collection and monitoring in order to strengthen advocacy, policy- and decision-making.

Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN-Habitat is a co-custodian agency responsible for tracking global progress towards indicator 6.3.1 as part of SDG 6.3, which seeks to “by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”.


Today, cities are home to more than half of the global population and this share is projected to reach nearly 70% by 2050. Many urban dwellers are already facing an increasing water and sanitation crisis that threatens livability. The lack of safely managed sanitation and the discharge of non-domestic effluents are respectively contaminating drinking-water supplies with microorganisms that are a major cause of waterborne diseases, and with hazardous chemicals that accumulate in the environment and food chain. The widespread presence of disease-causing organisms (e.g., faecal bacteria, virus, worms) and pollutants (e.g., heavy metals, nutrients, pesticides) in water resources are major risk factors for death and biodiversity loss.

Continuous and effective monitoring of sanitation and wastewater is essential to inform management decisions and investments at the local level. Decisions that can be made with proper analysis of sanitation and wastewater information pertain to the protection of the environment, ensure public health and support the transition to sustainable circular economies and climate change adaptation, among others. Examples of the potential of an efficient wastewater management and monitoring are:

  • valuing wastewater and its reuse as a way of augmenting freshwater resources in times of increasing water demand and water scarcity;
  • reducing costs by understanding combined sewerage/sewer ingress and promoting alternative wastewater management strategies as well as alternative sanitation solutions;
  • quantifying direct wastewater discharges to the environment that contribute to ambient water pollution but are not from sewers;
  • alerting from possible treatment dysfunction, and reduce pollutant loads discharge; and
  • identifying emerging contaminants and epidemic hotspots (e.g. monitoring of SARS-CoV-2).

Service providers and regulators have some data to plan, operate and budget for sanitation and wastewater services, but the data is most often insufficient to properly guide decision-making and investment. These gaps in knowledge can be addressed through different approaches, but standardized methods that can be comparatively applied across different settings with sufficient levels of disaggregation for socio-economic status, gender and spatial dimensions are needed. The UN-Habitat Scaling City-wide Inclusive Sanitation Project seeks to harmonize such concepts and inform its positioning as central to the planning of differentiated levels of service. This will advance the analysis of local and national contexts in terms of coverage of wastewater and sanitation services. Although this data is often utility or city-specific, it can guide the calculation of national indicators more effectively and give further granularity to inequities in service provision.           

Global report on the state of city-wide sanitation and wastewater management in the world’s cities

UN-Habitat will prepare a global report that reviews sanitation and wastewater management in cities and human settlements across the globe. The report will be designed to critically examine this topical issue by synthesizing current research and practice for presentation in a clear, concise and unbiased way. The publication will be used by a wide variety of sector professionals and is expected to be frequently cited in literature. The publication should be a mix of review of good practice, data and monitoring issues, current policy thinking, guidance on new and emerging issues and suggested management approaches.

The global report will take a forward-looking perspective, analyzing current trends and research on the way the world is urbanizing – with a particular focus on sanitation and wastewater management issues  – but also taking into account impacts by issues such as climate change and environmental degradation . The report will include targeted scenario analysis aimed at decision-support and make suggestions about critical issues and approaches to be considered, ensuring that the rural agglomerations of today do not become the slums of tomorrow.

The report will include a review of reported and actual data from a representative global sample of cities, drawing on the UN-Habitat and partner network of utilities, local governments and municipal associations as well as consultation with external partners including other UN agencies, regional development banks, other regional platforms and academic and research institutions. A minimum of 20 cities, balanced for different contexts, will be selected where relatively reliable data is available, and which can also serve to showcase proposed approaches and policy recommendations. The selection will be made based on city size (population, density), assessed sanitation and wastewater service coverage levels and the current presence of UN-Habitat and relevant partners.  

The report will be prepared in coordination with the UN-Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative (GEMI) and targeted for launch at the Mid-Term Review of the UN Water Action Decade in March 2023.

This call invites governmental entities, international organisations, not-for-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations and academic institutions to submit expressions of interest to lead preparation of the above-mentioned report. Selected institutions will be expected to work under the overall guidance of UN-Habitat and in collaboration with other partners in: (1) developing the structure and scope of the report; (2) developing background papers and draft selected chapters;( 3) collecting and reviewing data from a representative sample of cities; (4) supporting expert groups and technical meetings with background documentation; (5) developing a draft version of the report for consultation; and (6) finalizing the report based on reviews.

Institutions wishing to complement their expertise by partnering with other individuals or institutions should submit joint expressions of interest. In this case, a lead must be nominated who would subsequently subcontract the other(s).

Submissions from or close collaboration with institutions in the global south are particularly encouraged.

Short-listed candidates may be invited to submit detailed proposals or provide clarifications.

The Expression of Interest (EOI) should contain, but may not be limited to the following:

  • A concept note including background information and the approach that will be applied to the institution’s contribution towards the report;
  • Experience of the organization in the areas of sanitation and wastewater management, especially data collection and analysis. This should include a portfolio of projects undertaken in similar areas (references);
  • The support/contribution the organization is willing to make, including cash and in-kind. contributions in terms of researchers’ staff time, office space and equipment and other support in cash and in-kind should be expressed in monetary terms;
  • Governance and organizational capacity; CVs, incl. experience and qualifications of key professional staff and infrastructure facilities of the organization;
  • Certified true copies of original Audited Account Statements for the last two years; and            
  • Latest annual report.

UN-Habitat Financial Contribution

Upon selection, UN-Habitat will enter into an Agreement of Cooperation with the selected entity. UN-Habitat will contribute financially in the range of US$90,000 for the successful delivery of the report within the planned timeframe.

Overall Timeframe

The work outlined in this EOI is scheduled to commence in September 2021 and be completed within eighteen months.

Submission Requirements and Guidelines

The EOI must be delivered in electronic format no later than 23 July 2021 to with the reference number: EOI-23-07-2021 indicated in the subject.

Contact Information

Lars Stordal, Programme Management Officer, Urban Basic Services Section, UN-Habitat.


Please note that this EOI notice does not constitute a solicitation. UN-Habitat reserves the right to change or cancel this requirement at any time in the EOI/or solicitation process.

Submitting a reply to an EOI does not guarantee that a Cooperation Partner will be considered for receipt of the solicitation when issued and only Cooperation Partners who are deemed qualified by UN-Habitat upon completion of evaluation of submission will receive the final solicitation document.