Considering the theme selected for World Water Day 2011 ‘Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge’, the Municipality of Zaragoza, the United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015/UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication, the SWITCH consortium and UN-Habitat organized an international conference which brought together key stakeholders to move forward the international agenda and share solutions for the sustainable management of water in cities. The conference was also an intermediary step in the preparation of World Water Day 2011.
A dedicated website offers daily updates from the conference and specific information for media.
During the 16th edition of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16), that took place in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010, a series of relevant partners, led by the National Water Commission of Mexico, organized the Dialogs for Water and Climate Change. The purpose of these Dialogs was to raise the profile of adaptation to climate change in the water sector within the broader development community, to share relevant experiences between water practitioners, international experts and representatives of national and local governments, and generate greater political support for adaptation policies that consider water resources and that would benefit other sectors.
On 1st December, UN-Water, the inter-agency coordination mechanism, convened a UN-Water Day at the Dialogs which included different panels on the following issues: floods; droughts; water, food and energy; IWRM and NAPAs; economics of adaptation to climate change.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan, organized a Regional High-level Expert Group Meeting to Reduce Flood Disaster Risk in Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan from 9 to 10 November 2010. The meeting provided a venue to share information on recent assessments of the Pakistan floods and to discuss early warning and preparedness perspectives, exchange information and experiences on flood disaster risk reduction strategies, and help identify regional cooperation opportunities. The outcome of the meeting focused on integrating disaster risk reduction into recovery and reconstruction plans and fed into the country's recovery and reconstruction plan supported by the UNCT.
The main aim of the UNECE/WHO-EURO Protocol on Water and Health to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes is to protect human health and well being by better water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and by preventing, controlling and reducing water-related diseases. The Protocol is the first international agreement of its kind adopted specifically to attain an adequate supply of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for everyone, and effectively protect water used as a source of drinking water. The 2nd session of the Meeting of the Parties provided an opportunity to review progress achieved so far and to reflect on and plan for the challenges that lie ahead.
The Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) organized "Land Day 3," convened on 23 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan, in parallel to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10).
Land Day 3 sought to highlight the benefits of fostering synergy at the national level in the implementation of the three sister Rio Conventions on desertification, biological diversity and climate change; illustrate the relevance of (agro)biodiversity in the drylands for food security, climate change adaptation and poverty reduction; and examine the role of science in biodiversity conservation and combating desertification. Drawing on examples from East and Central Asia, discussion addressed the benefit of synergies between sustainable land management, the approach advocated for combating desertification, land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought, and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The venue of the event was the Dialogue Space in the Rio Conventions Ecosystems and Climate Change Pavilion.
Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of more than 3.5 million children under the age of five every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, handwashing with soap is seldom practiced and difficult to promote.
Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. A vast change in handwashing behaviour is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015. Global Handwashing Day aims to transform handwashing from an abstract idea to an automatic behaviour.
In over 80 countries on five continents, Global Handwashing Day events will take place in tens of thousands of schools, community centres, and public spaces. Everyone can get involved in Global Handwashing Day celebrations!
This Conference, organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) aimed at increasing awareness of water issues and solutions, build stronger networks and regional cooperation to implement actions, and enhance partners' engagement in helping countries meet their water agenda. The World Health Organization (WHO) was a partner in this Conference and contributed to various events during the week, related to water quality, wastewater use and investment planning for drinking-water.
In the last decades, there has been a significant rise in water-related extreme events, such as floods, windstorms and droughts. The International Day for Disaster Reduction is a vehicle to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. It is a day to highlight the successes and to continue working toward achieving safer and more resilient communities.
With the world's cities never having been so at risk of disruption by disasters as they are now, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored, in his message on the occasion of the Day, the need for wide participation in bolstering the resilience of urban areas to hazards.
According to figures cited by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), more than 236,000 people have been killed by disasters, with more than 250 million others affected by earthquakes, floods, tropical storms and landslides. Changes in weather patterns have coincided with shifts in human society, as more than half of the world's population now lives in cities. "If earthquakes, floods or storm surges were deadly in the past, they are deadlier still in an increasingly urbanized world," the Secretary-General stressed.
"On the positive side, we are learning to cope," he said, with the International Day providing an opportunity to recognize the efforts made by local governments and communities to protect themselves while simultaneously building more sustainable towns and cities.
The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
The United Nations chose the theme Better City, Better Life for 2010 to highlight our collective vision of a sustainable urban world that harnesses the potential and possibilities, mitigates inequalities and disparities, and provides a home for people of all cultures and ages, both rich and poor.
Today, half of the world's population lives in urban areas. In the coming decades, urbanization is expected to increase. Coping with the growing needs of water and sanitation services within cities is one of the key challenges of this new century. World Habitat Day provides a great opportunity to raise this issue and to highlight successful experiences in this field.
World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world's waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourage the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Join the Celebration! Plan on attending an event near you or start a Rivers Day event on your own. Events can range from stream cleanups to educational outings and community riverside celebrations.
As the main providers of drinking water to the world's population, water operators have great power to communicate, show by example, and inspire their customers to act in solidarity towards common environmental and development goals. Increasingly, water operators are engaging in awareness-raising campaigns, international development, and corporate social responsibility efforts. During this UN-Water development corner session, that took take place at the 2010 IWA World Water Congress, different experiences, lessons learned and practices in this field with particular emphasis on strategies in poor and rural areas were discussed.
With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on world leaders to attend a summit in New York on 20-22 September to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. The Summit brought together world leaders to review progress, identify gaps, and commit to a concrete action agenda to achieve the MDGs and internationally agreed development goals.
In addition to statements by world leaders and round tables on key issues, a number of high-profile side events focused on specific initiatives. On 22 September, Korea, Liberia, Senegal, Tajikistan and the United States of America organized a side-event on "Addressing the Global Water and Sanitation Challenge: the key to the MDGs". The side event took place at 7:30 am at the Delegates Dining Room and its purpose was to raise awareness of the fact that an investment in sanitation and water represents and reinforces investments in all the MDGs. Also on 22 September, at 6:15 pm, Bolivia organized a side event on "The Human Right to Water and Sanitation" at the ECOSOC Room, North Lawn Building.
Organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the World Water Week brings together experts, practitioners, decision makers and leaders from around the globe to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to solve the world's water crisis. Each year the World Water Week addresses a particular theme to enable a deeper examination of a specific water-related topic. The thematic scope for 2010 is "The Water Quality Challenge".
The United Nations will be present at the Week and the UN agencies and programmes organize several events. Access the Week's event finder and type United Nations in the "Keyword" field.
UN-Water, the UN inter-agency mechanism which strengthens coordination and coherence among UN entities and non-UN partners dealing with issues related to all aspects of freshwater and sanitation, will have a stand at the Week. Through the stand, UN-Water will be exhibiting materials from UN agencies and programmes, connecting with partners, and giving information about its activities.
>> Full World Water Week's 2010 programme [ - 7.69 MB]
Climate change gets coverage. Oils spills make front-page news. Yet, where are the water and sanitation stories, pictures, issues and people in the print, online, broadcast and social media? Most water, sanitation and development professionals, and probably some journalists, producers and managing editors, would answer, "Less present than they should be." This session, jointly organized by the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) at the Stockholm World Water Week, analyzed where the bottlenecks are in the communications from water and sanitation professionals to journalists, vice versa, and what can be done about them.
This session, convened by UN-Water at the Stockholm World Water Week, brought together experts and stakeholders to discuss the current situation and challenges related to water quality and wastewater production and management. Specifically, it looked at the ways different agents can provide solutions and response options to improve water quality and ensure sustainable development. The discussion built on the outcomes of 'Sick Water. The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development', a report produced by UNEP and UN-Habitat in March 2010.
The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum 2010 taking place in Bonn, Germany, from 21 to 23 June 2010, will bring together under the overarching theme "The Heat is On - Climate Change And The Media" media users and producers, scientists, climate change experts, energy industry experts, policy makers as well as representatives from international, grassroots and non-governmental organizations to discuss how to harmonize individual and collective action in order to steer the world away from a foreboding future and instead toward genuine sustainability. The role the media play in this process will consistently be in focus during the conference.
The UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) and the UN-Water Task Force on Water and Climate Change jointly organize three activities during the Forum: a) a stand in the Forum exhibition (21-23 June), b) a panel discussion session (21 June), and c) a journalist orientation workshop (20-22 June).
The theme of the UNW-DPAC and the UN-Water Task Force activities at the DW Media Forum is: "Water for Life: Where is Water in the Climate Change Debate?" The international debates on climate change do not show much about water, but the UN-Water Task Force considers that "Water is the primary medium through which climate change influences the Earth's ecosystems and therefore people's livelihoods and well-being". What is adaption to climate change? What is the state of international negotiations - from Copenhagen to Mexico? Is adaptation to climate change something worth reporting about? And what messages from the media can be delivered in this context to COP16? These are some of the questions that will be raised.
>> Agenda of the panel discussion session [ 114 KB] and speakers [ 157 KB]
>> Agenda of the journalist orientation workshop [ 81 KB] and speakers [ 186 KB]
>> Official website of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum
The Conference made a mid-term comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade 'Water for Life' 2005-2015 and a stocktaking of the progress achieved in the implementation of internationally-agreed water-related goals, and prospects for the fulfilment of international commitments on water and water related issues by 2015.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), together with the Government of Aragon, Spain, organized a workshop to analyze gaps in knowledge, science and monitoring in water resource management. The UNO-IDfA, which implements the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), participated in the workshop with a presentation on "Drivers of Economic Information in River Basin Management Planning".
The United Nations General Assembly convened, on the occasion of World Water Day, a high-level interactive dialogue on the implementation of the International Decade for Action "Water for Life" 2005-2015, and the realization of the internationally agreed water-related development goals.
Foreseeing new challenges in the equitable and peaceful management of shared water resources, officials urged that "bold" and "holistic" solutions be discussed to forestall pollution and water depletion, when the General Assembly meets for talks on the Millennium Development Goals in September.
The day-long dialogue, which also marked the midpoint of the Decade, was an opportunity to highlight the connection between water, climate change and disaster risk management. It also provided a chance to discuss the need for proactive engagement of all stakeholders to cope with those challenges. Meeting in three separate panels, the Assembly examined the issues of water and the Millennium Development Goals; water, climate change and disasters; and water and peace and security.
Each year, on 22 March, World Water Day focuses the world's attention on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources by highlighting a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2010, the World Water Day focuses on water quality under the slogan "Clean Water for a Healthy World".
On 22 March 2010, the official Water World Water Day 2010 event will be held in Nairobi, Kenya. Jointly hosted by UNEP, UN-Habitat, and UNSGAB, on behalf of UN-Water, and the Government of Kenya, the event will bring together policy makers, scientists and eminent personalities to discuss how to address the challenges of degrading water quality around the world. The United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015, which implements the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) supports this event, by organizing a three day journalist programme including an orientation workshop and side-events at the global World Water Day event.
In Zaragoza, Spain, UNW-DPAC organizes the conference "Clean Water for a Healthy World". The conference will take place at the Paraninfo of the University of Zaragoza, Spain, with the support of the Government of Aragon, the Zaragoza City Council and the World Council of Civil Engineers. The event is open to the public.
An exhibition on water and sanitation challenges organized by the Spanish Red Cross and the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs of Spain will also take from 20 to 22 March at the 'Plaza del Pilar' in Zaragoza, Spain. On 21 March the city of Zaragoza will join the World's Longest Toilet Queue to call world's attention to the sanitation crisis.
The United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015, which implements the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication, in collaboration with the Cervantes Institute, starts a conference series on the importance of water quality for human and ecosystem health.
The series includes a conference by a UN expert, followed by the projection of a short documentary film and a debate. The 2010 Conference series started in New Delhi, India, on 8 February 2010. Next conferences include Cairo, on 19 April, Tunisia, on 21 April, and Casablanca, on 23 April. In accordance with the UN resolution on multiculturalism and multilingualism, the conference series take place in Spanish with simultaneous translation into local languages.
This expert workshop was aimed at identifying water financing needs of Mediterranean countries, and at analyzing the importance and criteria of existing financing mechanisms (including public budgets and development assistance), considering ways to optimize existing finance and increase and improve access to financing. The overall aim of the workshop was to produce recommendations for the Strategy on Water in the Mediterranean (to be finalized in Barcelona, Spain, in April 2010) and provide inputs to the forthcoming meeting of Ministries of Finance of Africa in Dakar, Senegal.
The United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life, 2005-2015, which implements the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication, participated in the workshop and ensured a productive and interactive discussion, including the preparation of discussion questions and the facilitation of the meeting, in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
>> Outcome Document from OWG on Sustainable Development Goals
>> A Post-2015 Global Goal for Water: Synthesis of key findings and recommendations from UN-Water
>> Post 2015 Water Thematic Consultation Report
>> Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
>> UN-Water section on water in the post-2015 process
>> UN post-2015 agenda
>> DESA section on Post-2015
>> JMP Post-2015 global monitoring
>> Sustainable Development Goals e-Inventory
>> Decade's weekly
The Decade's weekly brings you every week the latest news from the Decade.
15-17 January 2015: UN-Water International Zaragoza Conference ‘Water and Sustainable Development: From vision to action’
22 March 2015: World Water Day on Water and Sustainable Development
2011-2020: UN Decade on Biodiversity
Deserts and Desertification
2010-2020: UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification
2011-2015: Sustainable sanitation: The Five-Year-Drive to 2015
19 November 2014: World Toilet Day