SINGAPORE - World Toilet Organisation founder Jack Sim was among 17 social changemakers honoured at the inaugural Novus Summit, organised in partnership with the United Nations (UN), on Sunday (July 17).
He was among luminaries such as engineer and entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian woman in space, UN Women deputy executive director Lakshmi Puri, and journalist Matthew Bishop, US business editor and New York bureau chief of The Economist news magazine.
The Novus Summit, held in New York City at the UN General Assembly Hall, was organised in partnership with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
It is held in conjunction with the UN High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development.
The summit is meant to bring together humanitarians and innovators to promote the UN's sustainable development goals.
Mr Sim, 59, founded the World Toilet Organisation (WTO) in 2001 to campaign for better sanitation standards in toilets worldwide.
The former businessman made his mark on the world map in 2013, when the United Nations General Assembly agreed to adopt a resolution to mark Nov 19 as World Toilet Day, after he suggested this to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about four years earlier.
On that day last November, he started a World Toilet College in India to educate locals from all walks of life - from sanitation workers to government officials - on toilet cleaning and maintenance, and the importance of good hygiene.
The college's aim is to reach out to 100,000 people in Rishikesh, New Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Sim is also working with the Andhra Pradesh state government to build six million toilets there.
In 2008, he was recognised as Time magazine's Hero of the Environment.
One-third of the world's population still lack access to improved sanitation today, with about one billion people having to defecate in the open.
Poor sanitation causes diarrhoeal diseases, which kill more children every year than Aids, malaria and measles combined.