Water and Sustainable Development: One Voice From Zaragoza

World water day, water, sustainable development

www.unwater.org

The UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference was held in January and kicked off the year that will shine a spotlight on water and sustainable development. 

 

“2015 is an important year. An important year for disaster risk reduction, an important year for climate and an important year for water,” said the UN-Water Chair, Michel Jarraud in his welcome video message to the 300 participants at the UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference.
As United Nations entities and programmes, experts, representatives of the business community, governmental and non-governmental organizations met from 15 to 17 January in Zaragoza, Spain, the dialogue intensified around water and sustainable development.

The meeting was permeated by a positive spirit for the year to come and it was clear that all the stakeholders present – academia, business, civil society, governments, intergovernmental organisations, youth – were ready to play their parts in preparing for water’s role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  As 2015 is the last year of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ participants also took stock of and learning from achievements as well as planning the next steps.

WHY WASTE?

Only 20% of global wastewater is currently being treated, leaving low-income countries hardest hit by contaminated water supplies and disease, according to the UN-Water Analytical Brief on Wastewater Management. The brief encourages governments to see treated wastewater as a valuable resource, and a priority for the post-2015 development agenda. 

 

With urban populations estimated to double in the next four decades, and low-income countries possessing only 8% of the required capacity to treat wastewater effectively, Wastewater Management, A UN-Water Analytical Brief, produced by WHO, UNEP and UN-Habitat, on behalf of UN-Water, describes the damage being done to ecosystems and biodiversity as ‘dire’ and warns of the threat wastewater will increasingly pose to human health, economic activity, and water security if left unaddressed. The report released on 2 February comes timely as discussions on how to expand water monitoring in the Post-2015 Development Agenda are underway.  A new initiative launched by several UN-Water Members under the UN-Water umbrella is looking into how to best support Member States to develop water-related monitoring systems for sustainable development that are technically feasible, flexible, adaptable and cost-effective.

The first consultation of the initiative was held in Geneva on 29-30 January with Member States and technical experts to have a concrete exchange on the proposed indicator framework and methods for the analysis of wastewater, water quality and water resources management. The Ambassador for Bangladesh, H.E. Mr. Shameem Ahsan, welcomed the initiative underlining the importance for the “sustainable and equitable path to growth for the least developed countries.” Johan Gely, from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation which provides substantive support to the initiative said that “…by 2050 over 50% of the global population will be living in regions under water stress and the impact will be counted in trillions of dollar. We need to increase our spending on water monitoring”. 

WORLD WATER DAY IN INDIA

With less than two months to go to World Water Day (22 March) many organizations and groups are preparing events and activities. The official UN-Water event will be held in New Delhi, India on Friday 20 March. 

 

World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day. 22 years later, World Water Day is celebrated around the world shining the spotlight on a different issue every year.

In 2015, the theme for World Water Day is ‘Water and Sustainable Development’. This theme encourages thinking around how water links to all areas we need to consider to create the future we want. Each year, UN-Water provides resources to inspire celebrations for World Water Day. A dedicated website will be launched in the coming days but in the meantime, the logo in six languages can be downloaded here.

RECOMMENDED READING

WATER LEX AND WASH UNITED: The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation in Courts Worldwide: A Selection of National, Regional and International Case Law – Information about the legal enforcement of the human rights to water and sanitation.

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: The Global Risks Report 2015 – After three consecutive years among the top three, water has now moved to the top position, as the greatest risks for human wellbeing and prosperity in the next ten years and beyond.

This article was published on 22nd March 2015, for the World Water Day, in Global Education Magazine.

 

 

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