The UNDP encourages cooperation in tackling water problems.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator, Rebecca Grynspan, says water is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by millions of the most vulnerable people in the world, as over 770 million people worldwide still lack access to potable water supply, while 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation.
Mrs. Grynspan told a High-level International Conference on Water Cooperation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Wednesday that the development was also threatening life and livelihoods, peace and human security around the world.
She said though the world was experiencing explosive growth in the demand for water resources, water waste and water pollution were increasingly threatening the integrity of aquatic and agro ecosystems vital for life and food security.
“Climate change is not helping either, increasing variability in the water cycle, and exacerbating extreme events like floods and droughts complicate even further an already immense water management and water governance challenge,’’ she said.
She pointed out that if these trends continued by 2025, as many as three billion people could be living in areas facing water stress.
The UNDP official, however, stressed that countries must collaborate to increase access to clean water and sanitation and improve water management for irrigation and productive uses, which had the potential of lifting millions out of poverty and hunger.
“The importance of this cooperation should feature prominently in the post-2015 development agenda, as well as in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Water is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by millions of the most vulnerable people in the world,” she said.
She also emphasised the need for effective and inclusive water cooperation at all levels – local, national, regional, and international, adding that this was essential for effective water governance to achieve key water-related objectives and targets.
She said that at the national level, community involvement, women’s voices and participation and private sector cooperation were essential, while at the regional level, dialogue, information sharing and cooperation on trans-boundary waters to advance peace, security, environmental protection, and regional economic development should be supported.
Similarly, at global level, she said international standards, goals and targets on water and related issues like climate change and cooperation mechanisms such as UN-Water, the Sanitation and Water for All initiative, and indeed, the International Year of Water Cooperation itself, are key.
The Conference, Mrs. Grynspan said, would serve to further inform UN member states on this issue as they undertake the process of designing the post-2015 and sustainable development agenda.
“Governments, the UN system, private sector, civil society and citizens at large all have to come together, and raise their voices for a post-2015 and sustainable development agenda that will be owned by all. I urge all of you to stay engaged and participate in this unprecedented global conversation,’’ she added.
The UN said it recognised that cooperation was essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share the precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace.
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