During the last 15 years, some two billion people have seen improvements in their access to water sources thanks to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yet across the globe today, 750 million people still lack safe drinking water. Tackling these challenges by placing water issues front and centre, the UN-Water International Conference takes place this week in Zaragoza, Spain. The goal is to bring the post-2015 agenda into action.
Being the first major sustainable development conference of 2015, the event is arranged from 15 to 17 January under the theme ‘Water and Sustainable Development: From Vision to Action’. It will take a closer look at the proposed water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and analyze the role of different stakeholders in contributing to their implementation. More than 300 participants from UN Agencies and programmes, the business community, governments, academia, civil society and media are attending the conference.
“Water is a central element in this new global landscape — running through many peace and security situations and permeating the development agenda”
UN Deputy Secretary-General
“Water is a central element in this new global landscape — running through many peace and security situations and permeating the development agenda,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted recently as he addressed an event focusing on global water challenges. Mr. Eliasson pointed to a growing water demand with an estimated 1.8 billion people soon living in areas affected by water scarcity.
Freshwater is central to all development. But challenges are growing, spreading and multiplying across the world. Yet many water problems are economic, social and political in nature and could be addressed through effective governance to optimize use between sectors and ecosystems and balance current and future needs. In this context, the Zaragoza Conference offers a space for dialogue.
“The Conference adds value to what needs to be done regarding financing, capacity building, technology (and its transfer) and (good) governance. Like other years we do it on the basis of specific cases that are useful to move forward,” explains Josefina Maestu, Director of the UN-Water Office in Zaragoza.
The Conference is organized by the UN Office to Support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015 implementing the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), in collaboration with UN DESA’s Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) in Korea, 18 UN-Water members, 13 partners and 21 other organizations and governments.
The event is part of the road map for World Water Day 2015, celebrated on 22 March and focusing this year on ‘water and sustainable development’. Since 2015 also marks the concluding year of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life,’ the conference also offers an important opportunity to evaluate achievements made and prepare for the next steps, bringing vision into action.