Water decade kicks off, sending waves of action for sustainability
There is a global water crisis. 40 per cent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity and two billion people are forced to drink unsafe water. Pressure on the world’s precious freshwater resources is rising and the need for action is urgent. Managing water well is essential for the international community to deliver the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Without this, most of the Sustainable Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved. Every drop matters.
It’s time to change our approach to water. That is why the UN Secretary-General and World Bank President asked eleven Heads of Government and State and a Special Adviser to form the High Level Panel on Water, providing leadership and direction to efforts to achieve the water-related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It is also against this backdrop that the International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development will kick off on World Water Day on 22 March, putting a greater focus on water and sanitation during the next ten years.
Water and sanitation are critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human development, health and well-being. Water-related challenges, including limited access to safe water and sanitation, increasing pressure on water resources and ecosystems, and an exacerbated risk of droughts and floods, have received increasing attention in the global development arena.
Water is at the heart of recent milestone agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the 2015 Paris Agreement. The World Economic Forum ranks the water crisis in the top three of global risks for the third consecutive year. Failing to respond effectively to these challenges will have devastating global effects.
To be successful, Member States and the United Nations system will need to respond in a coordinated and effective manner. In its resolution 71/222, the General Assembly proclaims the period from 2018 to 2028 the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, to further improve cooperation, partnership and capacity development in response to the ambitious 2030 Agenda.
This Water Action Decade will focus on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources and sanitation to achieve social, economic and environmental objectives and to implement and promote related programmes and projects, as well as to advance cooperation and partnership at all levels to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
These objectives will be pursued by improving knowledge generation and dissemination, facilitating access to knowledge and the exchange of good practices; developing new information relevant to water-related Sustainable Development Goals; pursuing advocacy, networking and promoting partnerships and action by different actors; and, strengthening communication actions at various levels for the implementation of the water-related Goals.
The UN Secretary-General, with the support of UN-Water, was invited to take appropriate steps within existing resources to plan and organise the activities of the Decade at the global, regional and country levels. The Resolution further requested the UN Secretary-General, with the support of UN-Water, the specialized agencies, the regional commissions and other entities of the UN system, to facilitate the implementation of the Decade in cooperation with Governments and other relevant actors.
The President of the General Assembly will formally launch the International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development on 22 March at UN Headquarters in New York, where the action plan of the Water Action Decade will be presented and discussed by Member States and panellists, as well as other actors present, who are eager to accelerate progress on water related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda. Making every drop count.
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