Reporting on progress from the Group of Friends of Water

The Group of Friends of Water was established by the initiative of the UN Permanent Mission of Tajikistan in 2010, initially as a platform for the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly resolution 64/198 “Midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Life’, 2005–2015”. Later the Group became an informal voluntary association of likeminded countries in promotion of the UN water agenda.

The group played an important role in facilitating the preparation for the High-level interactive dialogue of the Sixty-fourth Session of the General Assembly (New York, 22 March 2010) and the High Level International Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life 2005-2015” (Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 8-9 June 2010).

Members of the Group of Friends of Water
Up to present 39 UN Member States are the members of the Group of Friends of Water: Australia, Argentina, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation , Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Yemen.

In 2012 the Steering Committee of the Group of Friends of Water was established with the participation of Finland, Tajikistan, Thailand and Hungary. The Steering Group was launched in order to give an impetus to the discussions on water issues in the context of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The group was working together throughout the run up to Rio+20 Conference.

In 2012 the group organized five thematic discussions with the goal to bring added value to the sustainable development discussions through pragmatic and result-oriented approaches. The following thematic discussions have been organized by the Steering Committee:

  • "Water related risk management – the impact of human intervention on water", by the Permanent Mission of Hungary, February 2012;
  • "Efficient use of water", by the Permanent Mission of Finland, March 2012;
  • "Water and Green economy", Permanent Mission of Tajikistan, March 2012;
  • "Integrated water resources management", by the Permanent Mission of Thailand, April 2012;
  • "Water in MDG’s", by the permanent mission of Hungary and Finland, April 2012.

These series of events prior to the Rio+20 Conference, were aimed to render support to the UN Membership and assist the work of the Group of Friends of Water on water related issues in the spirit of the Rio follow-up. On 11 May 2012, the Steering Group held their final meeting at the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations to present the findings of the five thematic discussions and delivered its recommendations for Rio (10 Commandments).

As it is known, the discussion on post-2015 development agenda has started. Reflecting water and sanitation as part of the post-2015 agenda is equally important. Water plays a crucial role for eradication of poverty and is, in fact, a prerequisite for the achievement of many of the MDGs.

In 20 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 65/154 by which it proclaimed 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. The resolution, expressing concern by the slow and uneven progress in achieving internationally agreed water-related goals, encourages all Member States, the United Nations system and all other stakeholders to take advantage of the Year to promote actions at all levels, including through international cooperation, aimed at the achievement of the water-related development goals, as well as to increase awareness of their importance.

In this context, the Steering Committee of the Group of Friends of Water will dedicate itself using its informal frameworks to promote understanding of the challenges the humanity faces today. In this manner, the Steering Committee of the Group of Friends of Water in 2013 will organize a number of workshops on areas related to water problems and challenges, in a broader context of water cooperation and diplomacy, including inequalities and rights to water and sanitation.

Calendar of events held in 2013

  • Special event on "The road to a global goal on water", organized by the Steering Committee of the Group of Friends of Water (UN Permanent Missions of Finland, Hungary, Tajikistan and Thailand) and the UN Permanent Mission of Switzerland. 18 June 2013.
  • Meeting of the Group of Friends of Water "Water and Disasters", organized by the UN Permanent Mission of Tajikistan. 9 September 2013.
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