I am pleased to send greetings to the Friends of Water Group, which is now more than seventy-strong. In particular, I thank the permanent missions of Finland, Hungary, Tajikistan and Thailand for establishing this steering committee and for organizing five thematic discussions this year. The messages you have produced for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development have added value to the ongoing discussions on the Rio+20 outcome.
I also commend the interaction between your group and UN-Water, and I hope this dialogue continues. UN-Water is a valuable coordination mechanism, bringing together 30 United Nations members and 26 key partners in the international community to focus on water resources for development.
UN-Water’s forthcoming UN-Water Status Report, to be launched on World Water Day the eve of Rio+20, reflects a global survey of more than 130 countries. It shows the significant positive impact that integrated approaches to water resource management can have on development.
I encourage you to collaborate with UN-Water in advocating for and implementing sound policies for integrated water resources management. I also urge you to keep the issue of water on the agenda at the highest levels of government. There must be a particular focus on the hard-to-reach pockets of society, particularly rural populations.
In Rio, Governments, the private sector and civil society must be encouraged to agree on launching a process to establish Sustainable Development Goals that build on the Millennium Development Goals. The Goal of cutting by half the proportion of people without access to an improved water source has been met well ahead of the 2015 deadline. However, some 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation and more than 1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water.
We need a global initiative to provide universal access to safe drinking water by 2030, to improve wastewater management, and to increase the efficiency of water use in agriculture, energy and industry.
This week I announced the three co-chairs of my High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on the post-2015 way forward. Water will be central to their discussions. There can be no sustainable development without water.
Let us commit to finding innovative solutions. And let us advocate for concrete goals and targets in Rio.
You can count on my full support.