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21 April 2016

United Nations Secretary-General, World Bank Group President Appoint High-Level Panel on Water

Ten Heads of State, Government Join Global Coalition to Ensure Access for All

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced today the appointment of 10 Heads of State and Government, as well as two Special Advisers, to the High-Level Panel on Water.

The Panel, launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last January, aims to mobilize effective action to accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, at a time of unprecedented challenges.

“Ensuring water and sanitation for all is crucial for reducing poverty and achieving other Sustainable Development Goals,” Secretary-General Ban said.  “I urge all partners to mobilize behind SDG 6 with political, financial and technological support.”

Today, more than 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation and at least 663 million do not have access to safe drinking water.  Poor sanitation, water, and hygiene lead to about 675,000 premature deaths annually, and estimated annual economic losses of up to 7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in some countries.  Floods and droughts already impose huge social and economic costs around the world, and climate variability will make water extremes worse.  If the world continues on its current path, projections suggest that it may face a 40 per cent shortfall in water availability by 2030.  The consequences of such stress are local, transboundary and global in today’s interconnected world.

The joint United Nations-World Bank Group High-Level Panel on Water will provide the leadership required to tackle these challenges and champion a comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, and providing improved access to clean water and sanitation.

“Growing cities and populations, as well as a changing climate, are placing unprecedented pressures on our water resources,” said World Bank Group President Kim.  “Addressing this challenge, and ensuring that we can provide clean water and sanitation for all, requires the kind of global action, strong leadership and commitment shown by the members of the High-Level Panel on Water.”

The High-Level Panel on Water will be co-chaired by President Ameenah Gurib of Mauritius and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico.  Among other actions, it will seek to:

Motivate effective action — Focusing public policy dialogue, private sector models and practices, and civil society initiatives towards the water SDG; and

Advocate on financing and implementation — Promoting efforts to mobilize financial resources and scale up investment for the water SDG, including through innovative financing and implementation strategies.

The Members of the High-Level Panel on Water are expected to rally concrete action on SDG 6 and its related targets at national, regional and global levels, as well as leading by example, in close collaboration with partners and networks including civil society and the private sector.

The Panel members, who will serve for two years, include:

Ameenah Gurib, President of Mauritius (Co-Chair)
Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico (Co-Chair)
Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia
Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh
János Áder, President of Hungary
Abdullah Ensour, Prime Minister of Jordan
Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
Macky Sall, President of Senegal
Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan

Special Advisers

Han Seung-soo, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of State for the Environment of Peru

For further information, including the joint statement on the launching of the High-Level Panel on Water, please see https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/waterandsanitation/hlpw.

Media contacts

United Nations:  Sharon Birch at e-mail:  birchs@un.org, or tel.:  +1 212 963 0564.
World Bank Group:  Ana Elisa Luna at e-mail:  alunabarros@worldbank.org, or tel.:  +1 202 473 2907.

What Members of the High-Level Panel on Water Have to Say:

President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius (Co-Chair)
“Water is life.  Access to clean water and sanitation is part of our human rights.”

President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico (Co-Chair)
“For Mexico, the High-Level Panel on Water represents a historical and‎ unprecedented opportunity to promote the recognition of water as an essential transversal element and the basis for the development and welfare of all our nations.  This multilateral initiative stands for the commitment of world leaders to foster existing efforts and generate new dynamics, promoting the water and sanitation SDGs within the 2030 Agenda.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia
“I welcome the opportunity to join the United Nations-World Bank Group High Level-Panel on Water.  Countries around the world are facing critical choices on how to allocate water across society, the economy and the environment in the face of the profound impacts of climate change.  Australia will make a substantial contribution to the Panel, drawing on our experience and innovative approach to managing scarce water supplies, and the assistance we have given to other countries facing growing uncertainty about supplies of fresh water.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh
“The other name of water is life.  Water is not only indispensable to human life, but also essential for personal well-being, food production and conservation of nature.  I am very optimistic seeing the level of awareness in this regard globally.
“Securing water is about ensuring a life of dignity and well-being for people at the bottom.  To ensure that, we need to act robustly by addressing the water-related challenges in all their complexities:  inequality in access to water and sanitation; precarious health of rivers and wetlands; sustainable use of freshwater resources.  Rising incidence of water-related disasters induced by climate change challenges us further.  Water security is crucial also because our countries are rapidly getting urbanized.  It is about making our societies and nations reap the transformative opportunities arising out of the 2030 Agenda.  In attaining their water security, the low-income and climate-vulnerable countries need support.
“We need pragmatic thinking, bold decision and action in our approaches and solutions over water, for example, how to secure balance between competing demands over water resources; how to adopt a balanced conservation and use across natural water ecosystems that transcend borders; how we develop and facilitate access to water-intensive technologies across communities and countries to save lives and livelihoods.  The solutions and innovations should be such that these help secure water as a global common to the benefit of ordinary people.”

President János Áder of Hungary
“Water is the most critical natural resource of the twenty-first century.  Our development, the well-being, food, health and peace of our children will depend on how quickly we shift for a sustainable pathway of managing our water resources.  We see the goals, but the road of transformation still needs to be charted.  We are racing against time, but also against the consequences of our habits and earlier practices.”

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour of Jordan
“To achieve a sustainable world in the near future, safe and fresh water must be available to meet every person’s needs through reliable and affordable water supply and sanitation service.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands
“Water is life, and we must value our water right, like we learned and practise in the Netherlands in an inclusive, comprehensive and collaborative way to tackle the complex water crises of too much, too little and polluted water effectively, efficiently and with real added value for all.”

President Macky Sall of Senegal
“Senegal subscribes to the international development agenda for 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, just as it worked towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals before that.  The right to water and sanitation is now recognized as a basic human right and is included in the new version of the Water Law currently being presented at the National Assembly.  Senegal, therefore, welcomes the creation of a High-Level Water Panel, and I’m delighted to join the team convened by the United Nations and the World Bank Group to back this strategic body.
“We are aware that financing and hydrodiplomacy are two major issues with increasingly growing interest in the framework of the SDGs road map.  Hence, we would be very delighted to see these questions raised as big priorities since Senegal is supporting a Blue Fund Initiative, and has also capitalized a lot on experience in water cooperation, peace and transboundary water resources management.”

President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan
“I hope that the High-Level Panel on Water, which is created by the initiative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank, will play an important role in consolidation of all efforts and coordination of effective implementation of the initiatives of the international community, including the declaration of the New Water Decade ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ on different levels.
“The dedication of a separate Goal on water-related issues in the SDGs itself is of invaluable substance to the sustainable development of the world community.”

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
“We have a single opportunity to change the narrative of water into one that pursues a positive economic and social developmental path in a sustainable and equitable manner for all of humanity and the world.”

Han Seung-soo, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (Special Adviser)
“A comprehensive solution to diverse water problems such as the vicious cycle of water and poverty, transboundary water conflict and mega water-related disasters is the top political issue in this century.  The Panel is determined to help countries jump-start their actions to solve the problems towards achievement of SDG 6 and other targets related to water.”

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of State for the Environment of Peru
“Considering the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction during 2015, the High-Level Panel on Water provides an opportunity to include climate change within the water debate, and especially around the SDGs.  Water should be central to the climate and development debate.”

For information media. Not an official record.