United Nations

ACC/1999/18


Administrative Committee on
Coordination

 
11 November 1999
ORIGINAL: ENGLISH


 

Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development
Report of the ACC Subcommittee on
Water Resources on its twentieth session
WHO headquarters, Geneva, 4-8 October 1999)

 

Contents 

Paragraphs Page
I. Introduction 1-2 3
II. Matters brought to the attention of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development 3-19 3

A. Review of the Subcommittee's method of work

3-6 3

B. Preparation of reports for the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development

7-11 4

C. World Water Development Report

12-17 5

D. Date and place of the twenty-first session of the Subcommittee and selection of the Chair and Vice-Chairpersons for the twenty-first and twenty-second sessions of the Subcommittee

 

18-19

 

6

III. Conclusions reached and summary discussions of other matters 20-39 6

A. Briefing to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its seventh session

20 6

B. Subcommittee's contribution to the development and implementation of the World Water Vision

21-22 6

C. Public information with particular reference to the World Day for Water

23-26 7

D. Water quality initiative

27-28 7

E. International network for information management

29-30 8

F. Water supply and sanitation

31-33 8

G. Other matters

34-39
Annexes

I. Agenda

11

II. List of participants

12

III. List of documents

14

IV. Provisional agenda for the twenty-first session

15

I. Introduction

1. The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) Subcommittee on Water Resources held its twentieth session at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, from 4 to 8 October 1999. The agenda for the session, as adopted by the Subcommittee, is contained in annex I, the list of participants in annex II, the list of documents in annex III and the provisional agenda for the twenty-first session in annex IV.

2. Mr. Gourisankar Ghosh (United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)), Chairman for the nineteenth and twentieth sessions, presided over the first three days of the session, while Mr. Cengiz Ertuna, Vice-Chairman, chaired the discussions on the last two days. Mr. Manuel Dengo (Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat) served as Secretary. In opening the session, the Chairman, on behalf of the Subcommittee, expressed appreciation to WHO for hosting the twentieth session of the Subcommittee. 

 

 

II. Matters brought to the attention of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development

 

A. Review of the Subcommittee's method of work (agenda item 3 (a))

 

3. In response to a request made by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its sixth session that a report of the Secretary-General reviewing the Subcommittee's method of work be submitted to the Commission at its eighth session in 2000,1 the Subcommittee at its nineteenth session decided to obtain the services of an independent consultant to prepare the report. The consultant's draft report (ACC/SWR/1999/4) identified four possible options: (a) the status quo, (b) improvement of the Subcommittee's procedures, (c) improvement of procedures and establishment of new priorities (including proposals to obtain the necessary additional resources) and (d) abolition of the Subcommittee if other existing freshwater coordinating mechanisms were considered. Given that options (a) and (d) were generally rejected by the Subcommittee, most of the ensuing discussion focused on the need to improve procedures.

 

4. Members of the Subcommittee agreed that current procedures needed substantial improvement and that new priorities should be explored, including the identification of its core areas of activity, including the implementation of chapter 18 of Agenda 212 and the publication of the World Water Development Report. It was also stressed that the Subcommittee should focus on its "comparative advantages", such as (a) the moral authority of the United Nations system, (b) its access to Governments and intergovernmental processes, (c) its being an effective tool of advocacy, (d) its ability to define higher-level policies and issues, (e) its catalytic role in promoting global policies and guidelines and (f) its unique role as a forum for discussion of differing views of various organizations of the United Nations system involved in the field of freshwater resources.

 

5. It was agreed that the Subcommittee secretariat should be more proactive in the identification, promotion and coordination of specific issues and that the agenda of future sessions should focus on a few strategic issues, as opposed to a comprehensive agenda. In case it is decided that the secretariat needs to be reinforced to carry out more functions, a work plan for fund-raising should also be formulated with a view to obtaining additional financial and human resources. The Subcommittee decided that its future sessions would consist of a three-day core meeting, a one- day session for ad hoc workshops and an extra day for informal discussions with selected partners outside the United Nations system. In order to revitalize the three-day core meeting, interested Subcommittee member organizations would be requested to submit two-page summaries of current and future activities with a view to promoting inter-agency cooperation. It was further decided that all substantive agenda items in future sessions should be accompanied by concise issue papers.

 

6. The Subcommittee requested the consultant to take account of the above-mentioned decisions in the preparation of the final draft of her report, which would be submitted to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session, following its review by the Subcommittee secretariat. The Subcommittee further decided that a special one-day session would be held in The Hague immediately after the Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference scheduled to take place there from 17 to 22 March 2000. The main objective of the special session, to be hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Programme of Action (GPA) Coordination Office tentatively on 23 March, would be to recommend to the Subcommittee at its twenty-first session specific proposals regarding procedural changes, taking into account the consultant's report to be submitted to the eighth session of the Commission and the discussions held during the twentieth session of the Subcommittee. The final recommendations of the Subcommittee would be submitted to ACC through the following session of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development. 

 

B. Preparation of reports for the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (agenda item 3 (c))

 

 

7. The Subcommittee was briefed by the Secretary on the preparation of the other two reports of the Secretary-General to be submitted to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session, to be held in New York from 24 April to 5 May 2000, in addition to the consultant's report on the review of the Subcommittee's method of work discussed under agenda item 3 (a). Comprehensive background information on the preparation of these documents is contained in document ACC/SWR/1999/5.

 

8. As task manager of chapter 18 of Agenda 21, the Subcommittee is responsible for the preparation of the report of the Secretary-General on progress made in providing safe water and sanitation for all during the 1990s, to be submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session, through the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2000 and the Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session. This report had been requested by the General Assembly in resolution 50/126 and would (a) provide up-to-date information on both water supply and sanitation coverage around the world, (b) evaluate the progress made in attaining the ultimate goal of providing safe water supply and sanitation for all and (c) provide proposals for further action, particularly in developing countries and those with economies in transition. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development at its first session, held in New York in April 1999, made a series of detailed proposals regarding the outline and contents of this report, which were subsequently adopted by the Council at its substantive session of 1999.

 

9. Following a review of these proposals by the Subcommittee, it was decided that the report should attempt to follow the proposed outline and contents as much as possible, but also taking account of the need to produce a balanced report along the lines of previous similar reports produced during the 1990s and to comply with the strict 16-page limitation on its length. The Subcommittee agreed that, as in the case of the two progress reports published during the decade, this report should continue to be based on water supply and sanitation coverage data provided by UNICEF and WHO and that it should be finalized by the Subcommittee secretariat by December 1999. It was also recalled that the Subcommittee at its nineteenth session had agreed that the preliminary data set would be provided to the secretariat by 31 August 1999 so that a first draft could be discussed during the current session. Given that this data set failed to materialize, the Subcommittee requested UNICEF and WHO to ensure that these data could be made available to the secretariat as soon as possible. It was agreed that the regional and global coverage figures would be delivered to the secretariat by 5 November 1999.

10. The other report will be a revised version of a previous report of the Secretary-General, entitled "Issues related to the spatial planning of land (including minerals) and water resources" (E/C.7/1998/5), originally prepared by the Subcommittee secretariat, in full consultation with other Subcommittee member organizations, for submission to the fourth session of the Committee on Natural Resources (CNR) in 1998. The Committee on Natural Resources was subsequently abolished by the Economic and Social Council and replaced by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development, whose first session in April 1999 examined all reports previously prepared for the fourth session of the Committee on Natural Resources. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development at its first session recommended to the Council that it take note with appreciation of this report but request the Secretary-General to prepare a revised document and to make it available to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session as a background document on integrated land management.3 The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development suggested a considerable number of very specific revisions,4 which were subsequently adopted by the Council at its substantive session of 1999 (Council resolution 1999/49), with a few minor amendments.

11. The Subcommittee agreed that the revised report would be prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, according to the suggested Economic and Social Council revisions, and submitted to the second session of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development, to be held in New York from 14 to 25 August 2000. As requested by the Council in resolution 1999/49 of 28 July 1999, the report should also be made available as a background document during the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in April-May 2000. In other words, the revised report is intended to be discussed, and possibly endorsed, only by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development at its second session, as opposed to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session. 

C. World Water Development Report (agenda item 4)

12. The Subcommittee at its nineteenth session decided that a core group of member organizations would be responsible for drafting the terms of reference and preliminary work plan for the World Water Development Report. The first meeting of the Core Group for the Preparation of the World Water Development Report was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 25 and 26 February 1999. As elaborated in background document ACC/SWR/1999/6, the Core Group agreed on the preliminary terms of reference of the Report, including its basic rationale (why), definition (what) and methodology (how). It recommended that the Report be a biennial review consisting of two sections, namely: (a) a thematic section with a different key theme for each edition and (b) an overview of trends and analysis of major water sectors, including a statistical subsection. It would identify and diagnose, inter alia, the state of the world's freshwater resources and their use; the broad socio-economic context related to their utilization; current problems and emerging threats to the resource base; and approaches to sustainable development, management and use of freshwater resources. The Core Group stressed that systematic efforts should be made to ensure the collection of accurate and up-to-date data at the national level so that a credible picture of the state of the world's water resources could be compiled and continuously updated.

13. The Subcommittee endorsed the two-part structure proposed by the Core Group and emphasized that each specific key theme to be covered in section I should be cross-cutting and of general interest to all water sectors. One or more Subcommittee member organization(s) would be responsible for the overview of the thematic sections of each biennial edition. The Subcommittee recommended that the theme of the first edition in 2002 be "Progress in implementation of chapter 18 of Agenda 21" and that the report of the Secretary-General on the 10-year review of chapter 18 (to be submitted to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its tenth session) be based on the executive summary of that first edition. The Subcommittee also stressed that systematic efforts should be made to ensure the collection of accurate and up-to-date data and to use the World Water Development Report as a tool of advocacy for the sector.

14. The Subcommittee authorized the representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations University (UNU) as well as the Secretary C and possibly the Chairman, in case a conflict of interest or other obstacles arise C to form a task force to conduct a final round of negotiations with the World Water Council as soon as possible to decide whether a collaboration mechanism in the preparation of the World Water Development Report could be agreed upon, including a clarification of the kind of specific financial, administrative and substantive contribution to be made by the World Water Council. The task force will be chaired by FAO. It should be made clear from the beginning that this would be a United Nations report produced in cooperation with the World Water Council (and possibly other non-United Nations organizations), and that the organizations of the United Nations system, through the Subcommittee, would play the leading role in all stages of the project. Should the negotiations with the World Water Council fail, it was suggested that the four-member task force discuss possible collaboration with other interested organizations outside the United Nations system, including Canadian government agencies and the Global Water Partnership. Only if a clear basis for collaboration was agreed with the World Water Council or another non-United Nations institution, under the Subcommittee terms, should the Subcommittee task force engage in serious negotiations on the possible modalities, a memorandum of understanding, the allocation of responsibilities and the composition of a steering committee. The Subcommittee recommended that such a steering committee should be composed of six people: four Subcommittee representatives and two representatives from the World Water Council or other non-United Nations organizations.

15. The Subcommittee recommended that an independent unit be set up to produce the report on its behalf. This unit would be headed by a director C a leading expert on each edition's key theme C to be appointed for a single two-year term to manage the preparation and publication of each edition of the report. The unit would have some core staff and would be based inside an organization member of the Subcommittee, but would be independent from its technical and decision-making structure. Interest in housing this unit was expressed by UNU, UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The unit would also be responsible for the development of a common format for section II of the report and for editing draft chapters produced by designated member agencies. While the director would have full responsibility for the production of the report, the Subcommittee decided that an editorial board (composed of Subcommittee members and external peers) should be set up to review the report's content and be the ultimate arbitrator of conflicting views, including the presentation of different points of view in case a conclusive argument could not be agreed upon.

16. The Subcommittee agreed that a full project proposal and selling brochure should be produced by the task force, or one of its member agencies, by the end of January 2000. A comprehensive funding proposal should also be developed by the task force at the same time, with a view to approaching potential donors, including donors within the World Water Vision process.

17. It was further agreed that an expert group meeting to discuss data requirements, format and other methodological issues, as well as resource requirements, would be organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat in New York in January 2000. Members of the Subcommittee proposed that its special session in March 2000 also discuss the latest developments in the preparation of the World Water Development Report, as required.

D. Date and place of the twenty-first session of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources and selection of the Chair and Vice-Chairpersons for the twenty-first and twenty-second sessions of the Subcommittee (agenda item 8)

18. The members of the Subcommittee took note of the invitation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to host the twenty-first session of the Subcommittee. They recommended that the twenty-first session be held at ESCAP headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, from 16 to 20 October 2000. The Subcommittee further recommended that a special session be held in The Hague, The Netherlands, tentatively on 23 March 2000, in order to recommend specific proposals to its twenty-first session regarding procedural changes in its method of work.

19. The Subcommittee further recommended to the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development that Mr. Arthur Askew (WMO) be appointed as Chairman for the twenty-first and twenty-second sessions and that Mr. Cengiz Ertuna (ESCAP) be appointed as Vice-Chairman for the same period. 

III. Conclusions reached and summary discussions of other matters

A. Briefing to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its seventh session (agenda item 3 (b))

20. In response to the recommendation of the Commission on Sustainable Development, at its sixth session, on increased transparency and dissemination of information, the Subcommittee decided to provide a briefing to interested delegations during the annual sessions of the Commission on the work of the Subcommittee in general and, in particular, on the decisions and recommendations contained in the report of its annual session. The Secretary informed the Subcommittee about the positive outcome of his briefing on the Subcommittee's current work to delegations attending the seventh session of the Commission, on 27 April 1999. The briefing was attended by about 50 people and offered an invaluable opportunity for exchange of information on the activities of the Subcommittee with representatives of several Commission delegations. Participants at the briefing also welcomed the Subcommittee's decision to post its annual report on the Internet home page of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The Subcommittee recommended that further briefings be held during future Commission sessions.

B. Subcommittee's contribution to the development and implementation of the World Water Vision (agenda item 5 (a))

21. The Subcommittee was briefed on recent developments in the preparation of the Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference, to be hosted by the Government of the Netherlands in The Hague from 17 to 22 March 2000. During the ensuing discussion, it emerged that several Subcommittee members were concerned both with the fact that the organizations of the United Nations system had not been active in the World Water Vision process and with the lack of clarity regarding the development and aim of the framework for action, which was intended to be the main outcome and follow-up activity of the Forum. There was particular concern that possible moves to transform the framework for action into a global plan of action for freshwater resources not only would ignore the long-running activities and collective experience of the United Nations system in the formulation of global freshwater policies and guidelines C including the formulation and implementation of chapter 18 of Agenda 21 C but also might attempt to bypass existing intergovernmental processes and thus be opposed by States Members of the United Nations including many developing countries.

22. The Subcommittee decided that its member organizations should make significant efforts to participate in the Forum and that its Chairman or Secretary should represent the Subcommittee and ensure that all possible channels of communication would be used to disseminate information on its work and activities. It was also suggested that a very senior member of the United Nations system C either the Secretary-General or the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs C should be invited to participate in the ministerial conference with a view to reiterating the importance of the activities of the organizations of the United Nations system in the field of freshwater resources.

C. Public information with particular reference to the World Day for Water (agenda item 5 (b))

23. The Subcommittee evaluated activities carried out by the United Nations system, under the lead of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNU, during the 1999 World Day for Water, whose theme had been "Everyone lives downstream". Several members of the Subcommittee also referred to activities that had been organized by their respective organizations in observance of the Day. The Subcommittee was informed about the extensive interest in and response to the activities carried out during the Day by many stakeholders at all levels. Some members stressed, however, that while considerable success had been achieved in the organization of events earlier this year, there had not been an effective concerted system-wide approach towards the observance of the Day and there was concern that some organizations outside the system might be attempting to manipulate the celebrations to their own advantage.

24. The Secretary noted that, while the emphasis for the Day, as established by the General Assembly, was at the country level, there was a need for system-wide efforts in this regard. The Subcommittee reiterated the national character of the observance of the Day in accordance with Assembly resolution 47/193 of 22 December 1992, in which the Assembly had invited States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting, as appropriate in the national context, concrete activities, such as the promotion of public awareness through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21. It was generally agreed that the Subcommittee, as task manager for chapter 18 of Agenda 21, should be responsible for the provision of the necessary support to all Governments, as appropriate, for the observance of the Day.

25. It was recalled that the Subcommittee, at its nineteenth session, had agreed that the theme for the World Day for Water in 2000 would be "Water for the twenty-first century" in order to focus on the challenges for water resources planning, development and management for the next century (ACC/1998/18, para. 54). The Subcommittee confirmed that UNESCO would be the lead agency and noted that it intended to use its national International Hydrological Programme (IHP) committees to disseminate the activities envisaged for the Day. It was also suggested that systematic efforts should be made to promote the Day through schools and colleges at the national level. The Subcommittee agreed that UNESCO would prepare a draft background paper and circulate it among all the members by 15 January 2000 and that the full kit (including contributions from other Subcommittee members) should be ready by 15 February 2000, so that all members could use these to promote the Day through their own channels.

26. It was further agreed that the themes for the following two years would be: "Water and health" (2001), with the World Health Organization (WHO) as lead agency; and "Water for development" (2002), initially under the aegis of the Subcommittee itself, to coincide with the proposed first edition of the World Water Development Report. In view of the widespread reference to the occasion as "World Water Day" throughout the world, the Subcommittee recommended that the official title, in English, of the "World Day for Water" be changed to "World Water Day". The Secretary recalled that the official title had been adopted by the General Assembly in a resolution and that this recommendation would have to brought to the attention of that body through the Economic and Social Council.

 

 

 

D. Water quality initiative (agenda item 5 (c))

 

 

27. The Subcommittee at its nineteenth session had taken note of several ongoing initiatives and approaches on water quality and welcomed efforts to combine these building blocks into a comprehensive and coherent water quality initiative within the United Nations system. It was generally recognized that the Subcommittee was a well-placed and suitable mechanism for undertaking this development. The Subcommittee was briefed on a strategy for following up on these recommendations, as elaborated in a background document (ACC/SWR/1999/7), prepared by UNESCO. The document states that the Subcommittee's Global Water Quality Initiative is now being combined with the Water Quality Proposal put forward by the Global Water Partnership (GWP). As a result, a revised water quality document will comprise two parts: the first section will provide global coverage of water quality scientific and management issues, while the second section will specifically focus on the selection of drainage basins and on accompanying funding proposals for donors. A meeting of Subcommittee agencies involved in the Global Water Quality Initiative and the GWP Water Quality Programme is planned for 2000 to finalize the document, which will also be based upon various national and regional inputs. Efforts will also be made to integrate this water quality initiative with a proposed UNESCO initiative (Hydrology for the Environment Life and Policy (HELP)), which was sponsored by WMO and was designed to strengthen field-oriented experimental hydrology using the drainage basin as the basic framework.

 

28. Some members noted that this was a science-based initiative primarily designed to answer scientific questions and thus rather different from the Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS)/Water initiative to monitor water quality, including urban water pollution. As a result, separate activities were required to improve water quality assessment and water quality monitoring. Subcommittee members agreed with the Chairman's conclusion that both initiatives were useful and should be supported by the Subcommittee.

 

 

 

E. International network for information management (agenda item 5 (d))

 

 

29. At its nineteenth session, the Subcommittee had expressed its full support for UNU's proposal to create a World Wide Web database containing the content (and location) of all water-related United Nations World Wide Web sites and agreed that this project should be further developed by UNU as a matter of top priority. In addition, the Subcommittee was informed that its parent body (the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development) had requested the Secretariat to provide information on the construction of a Subcommittee home page and its link to the main ACC home page.

 

30. Following a presentation by the UNU representative on the development of a state-of-the-art Internet-based information system, the Subcommittee proposed a step-by-step approach in order to (a) keep costs to a minimum, (b) avoid any possible technical hitches C including in the search engine C that could arise from introducing complex web page architectures and (c) ensure information control by the Subcommittee, initially through its secretariat. The Subcommittee thus requested the secretariat to begin the development of a simple Subcommittee home page, if possible within the ACC home page, containing a brief summary of the Subcommittee's terms of reference and activities and with links to the home sites of its member organizations. A second stage, to be discussed and elaborated either at the Subcommittee's special session in March 2000 or at its twenty-first session, would deal with more complex technical issues, such as search engines and index of main issues.

 

 

 

F. Water supply and sanitation (agenda item 6)

 

 

31. The Subcommittee was briefed on the outcome of its "Workshop on Arsenic in Drinking Water", held on the first day of its session. Workshop participants concluded that a synthesis report C presenting a worldwide perspective, rather than focusing primarily on Bangladesh and India C would be a valuable contribution, by making state-of-the-art arsenic information and knowledge widely available. A draft synthesis report would be prepared by the end of November 1999. Participants also agreed that the Internet could be an effective medium for further developing and making available the synthesis report, as well as for comments and inputs. Active participation of organizations of the United Nations system should be promoted, along the lines of the round table held in Bangladesh earlier in 1999. While single United Nations organizations may take responsibility for specific chapters of the synthesis document, inputs should be sought from other United Nations organizations, universities, government bodies and other appropriate institutions. It was unanimously agreed that arsenic-affected communities had a right to information and, in that regard, participants appreciated the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)-supported communication efforts in Bangladesh.

 

32. The Subcommittee expressed its full support for the preparation of the synthesis report. It also stressed that the report should cover irrigation and food-related arsenic issues adequately. It was suggested that the chapter on basic strategies be renamed "Basic mitigation strategy" and that a demand-responsive approach should be debated in that chapter, as it was not only this approach that counted in a public-health emergency of that nature. The Subcommittee further recommended that one person should be assigned as a focal point for each chapter and that his or her coordinates should be made available to all Subcommittee members, through its secretariat.

 

33. The Subcommittee was informed about the decisions and recommendations of the WHO/UNICEF Task Force on Monitoring, which had been charged with the preparation of the "Global Report on the Status of Water Supply and Sanitation at the End of the 1990s", including the current status of data collection and analysis. It was further noted that this data would also be used for the preparation of the report of the Secretary-General on progress made in providing safe water and sanitation for all during the 1990s, as discussed under agenda item 3 (c). It was agreed that both reports should put forward consistent messages and recommendations. The Task Force assured the Subcommittee that it was making every possible effort to make the provisional water supply and sanitation coverage data available to the secretariat as soon as possible, but that delays had been caused by a series of problems with data collection and verification at the country level, including data for several populous countries that were essential to ensure a fair global representation. The Subcommittee was also informed that these problems had been overcome and that the validation process would be finalized by the end of October 1999. It was reiterated that the regional and global coverage figures would be delivered to the secretariat by 5 November 1999, as decided under agenda item 3 (c).

 

 

 

G. Other matters (agenda item 7)

 

 

34. In the light of the productive outcome of the workshop on arsenic in drinking water, discussed under agenda item 6 above, members of the Subcommittee agreed that its future sessions should discuss one or two topical issues relevant to its activities. It was noted that a number of issues, such as community participation, capacity-building and the participation of women, cut across major freshwater activities, and that close cooperation among the various organizations dealing with these issues would be desirable, particularly in the formulation of global and national policies and strategies and the preparation of joint documents, such as the 10-year review of chapter 18.

 

35. Given the important role played by women in water resources use and management, the Subcommittee recommended that, at its twenty-first session, the Subcommittee discuss water and gender issues, including monitoring and evaluation of implementation of policies and programmes related to women at both national and international levels. It was agreed that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would submit an issue paper on this topic. It was further agreed that the Subcommittee at its twenty-first session would also consider another issue paper on waste-water treatment and reuse, to be prepared by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). This second issue paper would deal with, inter alia, water quality and quantity issues, and rural-urban interfaces, as well as the implementation of existing policies and legislation, including proposed activities to facilitate compliance with water quality legislation. It was also recommended that both issue papers specify what action should be taken by the Subcommittee in these two respective areas.

 

36. The Secretary informed the Subcommittee about a letter addressed to him, on behalf of two German government ministries, reiterating Germany's commitment to host a global conference in preparation for the 10-year review of chapter 18 of Agenda 21 in 2002. According to the German proposal, this conference should be designed in such a way as to build political support to feed its results into the preparatory process for the review of chapter 18. The letter requested the Secretary to bring the proposal to the attention of the Subcommittee and to transmit the reactions of the Subcommittee to the German Government. Members of the Subcommittee agreed that this could be a useful opportunity to obtain political support for the review of chapter 18, to be carried out by the Subcommittee as task manager of the chapter. It was decided to request the Secretary to notify the German Government that, in principle, the Subcommittee would be pleased to convene such a conference, which would be hosted by Germany, and that the Subcommittee would welcome more information by the German Government on the aims and intended outputs of the conference. In case a cooperation mechanism could be agreed, the next session of the Subcommittee should decide, inter alia, which member organization(s) would convene this preparatory conference on behalf of the Subcommittee. The Secretary also informed the Subcommittee that more details about the 10-year review process should emerge by the next session.

 

37. In reply to an official invitation made by the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the Subcommittee decided that its Chairperson, or his/her deputy as an alternate, ex officio, would represent the Subcommittee at the meetings of the GWP Steering Committee. In case either of the two were unable to attend those meetings, the current Chairperson was authorized to nominate the Secretary or another senior Subcommittee member to represent him/her on behalf of the Subcommittee.

 

38. With regard to the request previously made by the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development that the Subcommittee collaborate with the ACC Subcommittee on Oceans and Coastal Areas, in the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (A/51/116, annex II), the Subcommittee authorized UNEP, through its Global Programme of Action Coordination Office in The Hague, to take the lead in exploring possible modalities for cooperation in the implementation of the Global Programme of Action, such as periodic informal joint consultations between the two Subcommittees and the establishment of a joint steering committee to coordinate efforts towards the implementation of the Global Programme of Action. UNEP was thus requested to submit to the Subcommittee at its twenty-first session concrete proposals regarding the modalities for collaboration between the two Subcommittees in the implementation of the Global Programme of Action. These proposals should include a clear definition of tasks in the realm of freshwater resources that needed to be carried out in order to reach an understanding of the scope and nature of the functions of the proposed Global Programme of Action Steering Committee.

39. Finally, with regard to the request made by the Subcommittee at its nineteenth session that regional summaries of best practices of inter-agency coordination at the country level be jointly prepared by the secretariat and UNDP, the Subcommittee was informed that only four resident coordinators, out of 135, had replied to a Subcommittee survey. The Subcommittee regretted this poor response but expressed its wish that similar efforts at country-level coordination in the water sector could be achieved in more countries. The Subcommittee also stressed that, besides the United Nations resident coordinators, other channels should be utilized to reach activities at the national level, in particular the regional commissions, technical cooperation activities and national contacts through intergovernmental bodies.

Notes 

1 See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1998, Supplement No. 9 (E/1998/29), chap. I, sect. B, decision 6/1, para. 20 (d).

2 Report of the United Nations Conference and Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex II.

3 Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1999, Supplement No. 12 (E/1999/32), chap. I, sect. A, draft resolution III.

4 Ibid., draft resolution III, annex.

Annex I

Agenda

1. Opening of the session.

2. Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.

3. Matters related to the Commission on Sustainable Development:

(a) Review of the Subcommittee's method of work;

(b) Briefing to the Commission at its seventh session;

(c) Preparation of reports for the eighth session of the CSD.

4. World Water Development Report:

(a) Outcome of the first meeting of the Core Group for the Preparation of the World Water Development Report;

(b) Outcome of preliminary discussions with the World Water Council regarding possible collaboration in the preparation of the report;

(c) Discussion of next steps in the process of preparation of the report.

5. Initiatives for joint action:

(a) Subcommittee's contribution to the development and implementation of the World Water Vision;

(b) Public information with particular reference to the World Day for Water;

(c) Water quality initiative;

(d) International network for information management.

6. Water supply and sanitation:

(a) Coordination of system-wide activities on the reduction of arsenic in drinking water;

(b) Global report on the status of water supply and sanitation at the end of the 1990s;

(c) Other issues related to water supply and sanitation.

7. Other matters.

8. Date and place of the twenty-first session of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources and selection of the Chair and Vice-Chairpersons for the twenty-first and twenty-second sessions of the Subcommittee.

9. Adoption of the report of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources on its twentieth session.

 

Annex II

List of participants

Chairman: Gourisankar Ghosh (UNICEF)

Vice-Chairman: Cengiz Ertuna (ESCAP)

Secretary: Manuel Dengo (Department of Economic and Social Affairs)

United Nations, its entities and programmes

Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Manuel Dengo
Frederico Neto
Claude Sauveplane

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Stephen Donkor

Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Cengiz Ertuna

Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

Omar Touqan

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

Kalyan Ray

 

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Gourisankar Ghosh
Shirin Hussein
Jingjing Qian
Michel Saint-Lot

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Ingvar Andersson

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Veerle Vandeweerd

United Nations University (UNU)

Ralph Daley

Specialized agencies and related organizations  

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Reto Florin
Hans Wolter

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Pradeep Aggarwal
Peter Gowin

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank)

John Briscoe

 
   

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

J. Alberto Tejada-Guibert

 

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Michael Moore

 

World Health Organization (WHO)

Jamie Bartram
Robert Bos
Han Heijnen
Richard Helmer
Josť Hueb

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Arthur Askew

Observers  

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative

Council (WSSCC)

Ranjith Wirasinha

 

Consultant to ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources

Margaret Catley-Carlson

 

Annex III

List of documents

ACC/SWR/1999/1

Provisional agenda (agenda item 2)

ACC/SWR/1999/2

Annotated provisional agenda (agenda item 2)

ACC/SWR/1999/3

Proposed programme of work (agenda item 2)

ACC/SWR/1999/4

A review of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources (agenda item 3 (a))

ACC/SWR/1999/5

Preparation of reports for the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (agenda item 3 (c))

ACC/SWR/1999/6

Report of the first meeting of the Core Group for the Preparation of the World Water Development Report (agenda item 4 (a))

ACC/SWR/1999/7

Report of the Water Quality Initiative and Hydrology for the Environment Life and Policy (agenda item 5 (c))

 

Annex IV

Provisional agenda for the twenty-first session of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources

1. Opening of the session.

2. Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.

3. Matters related to the Commission on Sustainable Development:

(a) Review of the Subcommittee's method of work;

(b) Ten-year review of chapter 18 of Agenda 21;

(c) Briefing to and outcome of the Commission at its eighth session.

4. World Water Development Report (WWDR):

(a) Outcome of the Expert Group Meeting for the Preparation of the World Water Development Report;

(b) Collaboration with the World Water Council and/or other non-United Nations organizations;

(c) Future activities regarding the preparation of the Report.

5. Initiatives for joint action:

(a) Subcommittee's participation in the implementation of the World Water Vision;

(b) Public information with particular reference to the World Day for Water;

(c) Water quality and waste-water initiatives;

(d) Formulation of a water and gender strategy.

 

6. Water supply and sanitation:

(a) System-wide activities on the reduction of arsenic in drinking water;

(b) Environmental sanitation initiatives;

(c) Other issues related to water supply and sanitation.

7. Other matters.

8. Date and place of the twenty-second session of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources.

9. Adoption of the report of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources on its twenty-first session.


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Date last posted: 15 February 2000 14:26:35
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