On 11 February 2011, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 65/154, decided to proclaim 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation. Resolution 65/154 calls on the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the Year to promote actions at all levels, including through international cooperation, as appropriate, aimed at the achievement of the internationally agreed on water-related goals contained in Agenda 21, the Programme for the further Implementation of Agenda 21, the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as to increase awareness of their importance.
UN International Years are declared by the United Nations since 1959 in order to draw attention on major issues and encourage international action to address concerns which have global importance and ramifications. By declaring 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC), the international community recognizes the importance of peaceful and sustainable management and use of water resources. Nurturing opportunities for cooperation in water management and improving the comprehension of the challenges and benefits of water cooperation builds trust and mutual respect among water users. And in turn, it contributes to promoting peace, security and sustainable economic growth.
The IYWC is an opportunity to highlight the importance of science and scientific cooperation to meet the challenges of water cooperation. Successful and sustainable water cooperation can only be achieved through a common understanding of the multifaceted aspects of the water crisis and the challenges it raises. The 2013 International Year and World Water Day will therefore attempt to build a consensus around the understanding of water cooperation and needed actions.
The importance of water cooperation lies in the fact that water is a cross-cutting issue which demands attention at all levels and across sectors. Water cooperation will be a cornerstone to achieving the MDGs, and ensuring ‘water security’ and a sustainable future. Consequently, the 2013 International Year on Water Cooperation calls on leaders to bring water to center stage, acting as the basis in which to establish stronger ties between nations, states and communities.
The global water agenda has been widened within the Rio+20 outcome document . It highlights water as being at the core of sustainable development and reaffirms commitments regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and the need to improve water quality, ecosystems protection (and the services they provide in terms of enhancing water quality and quantity) and conservation, water efficiency, water treatment and the financing required to achieve these tasks.
Since the Ministerial declaration of the 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague, ‘water security’ has also been gaining international recognition. National governments have become increasingly aware of the water-related security challenges, how they are intricately related to human security, and the need to address these in a systematic way.
A main objective of the year is to form strong and lasting partnerships and initiatives on water cooperation that will be essential in helping to maintain peace and security among nations, communities and stakeholders, while ensuring the fair and equitable distribution of water resources for society and the environment. Another key component, which underscores the importance of ‘water cooperation’, is for all stakeholders to recognize the current challenges and stresses upon globally shared water resources so that a constructive and realistic dialogue may take place.
World Water Day 2013 will also be dedicated to the theme of water cooperation. As part of the global campaign, the official UN event will be organized in 3 parts:
The overarching objective of the “Water Cooperation 2013” Campaign is to encourage and nurture water cooperation. To achieve this, there is a focus on four strategic objectives:
The Thematic Session on Water Cooperation, organized by the government of Tajikistan in June 2012 at the Rio+20 Conference, also brought some key messages and recommendations from the 2011 Dushanbe Preparatory Conference on this issue.
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