UN forum ends with agreement on measures to provide clean water, basic sanitation and housing

25 April 2005 –

The key United Nations forum considering ways to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic growth, social development and environmental protection – wrapped up its 2005 session with agreement on set of practical policy options intended to boost global efforts to provide clean water, basic sanitation and decent housing.

The thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) reached agreement early Saturday morning on a slate of policy measures aimed at speeding up implementation of water, sanitation and human settlements goals, ending its high-level segment and first-ever policy session, and opened its next one, which will focus on energy.

Under the terms of the outcome document, which will be submitted to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for review at its annual session in July, the Commission emphasized the need for a substantial increase in resources from all sources if developing countries were to achieve the internationally agreed development targets.

The text recognizes that governments have the primary role in promoting improved access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and adequate shelter, through improved governance at all levels and appropriate enabling environments and regulatory frameworks, with the active involvement of all stakeholders.

At the same time, efforts by governments to achieve the agreed goals and targets should be supported by the international community through a conducive international policy environment, including good global governance; a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system; mobilization and transfer of financial resources; debt relief, including debt cancellation, where appropriate; public-public and public-private partnerships; technical cooperation and capacity-building; and technology transfers.

The Commission's first policy session following the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) refocused international attention on the UN Millennium Declaration, which contains two development targets that relate directly to water and human settlements – namely to halve by 2015 the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and, by 2020, to have significantly improved the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

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