Singapore's first UN resolution adopted; now, every Nov 19 is World Toilet Day

The United Nations (UN) has agreed to mark World Toilet Day on Nov 19, thanks to a Singapore initiative.

Singapore had tabled the resolution, Sanitation for All, to raise awareness of the global challenge of sanitation and toilets.

It is the first time Singapore, since it became a UN member 48 years ago, had put a resolution before the UN's General Assembly of 193 members. The resolution was supported by 120 countries, said the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The UN estimates that 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to improved sanitation. This causes poor health and gender inequality as well as slows economic growth and erode the personal dignity of the poorest people in the world, the statement said.

After the resolution was adopted, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said it was important for the issue of sanitation to receive greater prominence as the UN comes up with a Post-2015 Development Agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals.

"Singapore hopes the resolution will focus the attention of the international community in making a positive impact on the lives of people all around the world," he added.

Singaporean Jack Sim, who came up with the idea, added: "It is a very big benefit in accelerating sanitation, so that everybody around the world will have a toilet." Mr Sim is the founder of World Toilet Organisation, which aims to promote good toilet habits and clean toilets.