25th September, New York, USA
The governments of Switzerland and The Netherlands, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, with the participation of UN-Water organized on the 25th of September a Ministerial Luncheon titled "Tackling water risks to ensure a sustainable future". Michel Jarraud, Chair of UN Water and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization moderated the wide range of speakers; from Ambassadors, UN representatives, to private companies and NGOs.
The outline of the key note speeches were among other the United Nations Global Assessment Report on Disaster risk reduction and the World Economic Forum "Global Risks report" which show water and climate risks are increasingly threatening society, nature and lives. The issue of proper water management and governance were addressed, together with the importance to tie the water issues to other sectors (e.g. food and energy) and finding partnerships within civil society and the private sector as it could lead to innovative solutions being identified.
A global goal on Water in the Post 2015-process was discussed whereby it was a unanimous voice for an integrated approach entailing amongst other the equality aspect.
Partnerships was indeed the order of the day and it was empathized that policy and actions must be interconnected to be effective. Juanita Castaño, member of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation stressed the fact that we shall develop strong and robust targets, and that the solution for sanitation does not end at the toilets but that waste water treatment must be addressed.
Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council brought in the historical perspective. He touched upon the ecological integrity aspect, and the pressing need to adapt whereas water resource management offers opportunities to find sustainable solutions in all fields, such as agriculture. Countries suffering from low yields could foresee potential increases with rain harvest measures as an example. He posed the question how do we ensure that water remains the catalyst of cooperation across sectors, and which partnerships do we need?
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said that it is now the right time to unite and addressed the strong connection between water, peace and security. She gave the example of Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s initiative on Sanitation for All as a great example of how to draw attention to this extremely pertinent issue.
Other topics covered in the round table discussions were the necessity of transparency and participation on the local level with local involvement in the decision making progress. The pivotal role of women and youth was discussed as well as the resilience perspective with disaster risk reduction and early warning systems being vital within a sound water management.
Water is in the heart of global sustainable development, and the knot tying together other urgent issues such as children’s and women’s health, climate, sustainable energy, food security and inequalities. In order to reach ambitious goals for a truly sustainable future, water needs to be placed high on the agenda.
In the context of the Post 2015-process, Ms. Amina J Mohammed, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, was one of the panelists on the event on the event Science and Higher Education in the Post 2015 agenda: the African context, arranged by The Planet Earth Institute and the African Union on the 23rd of September. She stated that we need to reinforce to finish off the MDGs in an ambitious and effective manner, and that mapping the way ahead is an even bigger challenge. Ms. Mohammed said that we need to move forward from a science based platform where thematic and regional consultations are part of the foundation, and that she hoped that we will find consensus on priorities for a process that is "light enough to fly but heavy enough to make an impact."