Tackling water challenges an ‘urgent task’ as world moves forward on Global Goals – UN deputy chief

Accessing safe and clean water in Woukpokpoe village, Benin. Photo: World Bank/Arne Hoel

Accessing safe and clean water in Woukpokpoe village, Benin. Photo: World Bank/Arne Hoel

27 September 2015 – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today urged swift action on the newly-adopted Global Goals directly related to the protection and equitable use of the planet’s precious water resources, as discussion continued at UN Headquarters on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Speaking at a meeting of the Friends of Water Steering Committee, Mr. Eliasson welcomed the Prime Minister of Thailand Chan-o-cha and President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikstan and spoke of the challenges that the Committee faced.“Worldwide, water demand is projected to grow by over 40 percent by 2050,” said the Deputy Secretary-General. “Population pressures, climate change and energy and agricultural needs have made finding sustainable solutions to water-related challenges an urgent and crucial task for ever more regions in the world.”

He then went on to highlight the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the place of water-related challenges within it.

“The litmus test for this new agenda will be implementation,” said Mr. Eliasson, “how to translate this vision into realities on the ground. Substantially transforming societies and economies requires political will, vigorous efforts, as well as ingenuity and innovation,” he added.

The Deputy Secretary-General also noted the importance of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in providing a foundation for enhanced global partnerships that will ensure effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and spoke about the importance of collaborative efforts between governments, international and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and academic to find new ways to take action on the global water crisis.

He also highlighted the work that UN-Water would be doing to provide support to ongoing efforts, and thanked Secretary-General Michel Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for his excellent leadership of UN-Water. He also welcomed Director-General Guy Ryder of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the new Chair of UN-Water.

“Water must never be a reason for rivalry or competition,” he said. “Water must be a source of cooperation and of shared security and prosperity. Let us remember that water is our primary source of life. So this is also, fundamentally, an existential challenge and a moral obligation.”