– As delivered –

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly

22 March 2021

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for participating in this high-level meeting to promote the implementation of the water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda.

Our goal was to demonstrate clear political support and to highlight priority areas for accelerated action. On both fronts I feel we have been successful.

The Joint Statement, issued by a plurality of Member States ahead of the High-level Meeting, provided impetus to the discussion.

As underscored in that Statement, the role of the UN System and relevant entities in delivering on SDG6 is critical; it is imperative that we continue to build up support for these initiatives and to accelerate action towards implementation.

I reiterate the call from Member States on the need to adopt “…a UN system-wide approach that integrates the UN activities related to water: most notably the Water Decade and the Global SDG 6 Accelerator Framework, within the framework of the planned Midterm Review.”

We have also heard voices of support from Member States during the High-Level Plenary on the 18th. Amongst the elements raised were:

–        The need to include all people, particularly indigenous groups and young people, in innovative water solutions.

–        An emphasis on connecting efforts on water to the need to preserve land integrity, and to prevent Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, elements to be discussed at an upcoming high-level event in May.

–        The need to close gaps in data and observation systems, particularly by strengthening the role of UN Water as coordinator, and to better engage the private sector.

–        The need to upscale financing and innovations.

–        And finally, the call for an international panel on water, in line with that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Excellencies, in addition to your valued inputs, our discussions also featured special ‘CSO Spotlights’, and panel discussions with experts from the UN System, the private sector, and related groups. We were offered innovative solutions that, with the right resources, could be scaled up and expanded.

From a Mayor in Mexico City using green technologies to re-use water, to an NGO in China working with university volunteers to help raise awareness and improve testing capacities, to a youth representative from Fiji, stressing the interlinkages to climate change, we heard how we can make the changes we need now to recover better.

Excellencies, we did not solve the water crisis last week. We won’t solve it also today; and we won’t solve it during our next 10, 50 or 100 meetings. That is not the point. The point, as with so many of our engagements in this great Hall, is to raise the issue, to keep it at the forefront of our minds, to remind the people of the world that THEIR concerns are OUR concerns. In doing so, in pushing these issues, time and again, in highlighting the failures and praising the successes, we can learn from each other and make progress.

So now, as we close the High-level meeting, we move one step closer to the Mid-term Review. Let us remember what was said here and use these next few years to move the needle, and to follow through on our commitments, to translate them into action to achieve SDG6.

Thank you.