New York

10 September 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at working breakfast hosted by Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain on "Water and Cooperation: Spain's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals” [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you very much for organizing this breakfast.

I am especially honoured that Her Majesty Queen Sofia is hosting.

She and I had a productive meeting yesterday on a number of important issues – including the rights of disabled people and the urgency of progress on the Millennium Development Goals, especially water and sanitation.

I could sense her strong commitment to development. Thank you very much, Your Majesty, for your personal leadership and your passion.

Spain has made outstanding contributions to our global efforts reach the MDGs.  I am especially grateful for Spain’s remarkable contribution of more than half a billion euros to the MDG Achievement Fund.  This was one of the largest single contributions to UN development activities in history.

Spain also hosts the United Nations Office in Zaragoza, our global hub for action on water.

Five years ago this month, I was there – in Zaragoza – to highlight the importance of water in achieving sustainable development. I pledged the UN’s commitment to protect and manage the world’s water resources. And I called on all partners to advance our water and sanitation MDGs.

Now we are marking the International Year of Water Cooperation. This is not just a designation on the calendar; it is a chance to help people around the world lead better lives. Safer. More secure. With greater dignity.

Water nurtures life. It should be a reason for cooperation, not conflict. This is especially important as our planet struggles to cope with climate change, population growth and pressure on natural resources.

We have to protect our water resources – and help the 2.5 billion people who have no proper sanitation.

Providing them with the right facilities will help with human health, the environment and the economy.

Experts say poor water supply and sanitation cost the world some $260 billion each year in economic losses.

Poor sanitation and hygiene are the main cause of diarrhoea, which kills 2,000 children each day.

To address this, we have launched a “Call to Action” to bring different partners together for the same goal: sanitation for all.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In April, we reached the 1,000-day mark before our 2015 deadline for the MDGs.

That day I was in Spain. I put on a shirt with the number 1,000 on the back. I ran out into the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and I kicked out a ball in the match between Real Madrid and Levante.

I was not trying to score a football goal; I was playing for the Millennium Development Goals. I was not rooting for one team or another; I was representing the United Nations in our work for all humanity.

In our campaign against poverty, hunger and disease, we are all on the same team. Let us give it our all and score a win for the world.

Thank you.