Ashgabat, 7 June 2018 (nCa) — Just look at these facts:
- 844 million people don’t have clean water. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2017)
- 3 billion people don’t have a decent toilet. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2017)
- 31% of schools don’t have clean water. (UNICEF, Advancing WASH in Schools Monitoring, 2015)
- Every minute a newborn dies from infection caused by lack of safe water and an unclean environment. (WHO, 2015)
- Diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor toilets kills a child under 5 every 2 minutes. (WASHWatch.org)
- Around the world up to 443 million school days are lost every year because of water-related illnesses. (Human Development Report, 2006)
- Every $1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of $4 in increased productivity. (WHO, 2012)
- The World Bank says promoting good hygiene is one of the most cost effective health interventions. (Disease Control Priorities, third edition (volume 2), 2016)
- If everyone, everywhere had clean water, the number of diarrhoeal deaths would be cut by a third. (Tropical Medicine and International Health, 2014)
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Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6 or SDG 6), one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN in 2015, calls for clean water and sanitation for all people. The official wording is: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
There are eight targets and 11 indicators to measure the progress on SDG6, all except one to be met by 2030. The world is scrambling to meet the challenge but doubts remain because of enormity of the task.
The roadmap chartered by the UN Secretary General is – Water Action Decade 2018-2028. This is based on a UN General Assembly resolution passed in December 2016.
To mobilize their efforts, the governments, UN institutions, international and non-governmental organizations, as well as other stakeholders at all levels for effective implementation of the water-related SDGs as well as goals and objectives of the International Water Decade will meet in Dushanbe on 20-21 June 2018.
The title of the event is: High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028.”
The embassy of Tajikistan in Ashgabat hosted Wednesday (6 June 2018) a curtain raiser for the conference. Ambassador Farrukh Homiddin Sharifzoda briefed the diplomatic community and the media about the conference and acquainted them with the draft of the final declaration ‘Promoting Action and Policy Dialogue.’
Official website of High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028
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The final outcome document of the conference will reflect the resolve of the world community to ensure the best use of water for the entire mankind. It will also acknowledge that at one of the spectrum the clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right while at the other end of the spectrum the human race has no choice but to manage the water resources responsibly.
The conference will endorse the UN Secretary General’s plan for Water Action Decade 2018-2028 as a blueprint to coordinate and catalyze action by the UN and its entities throughout the Decade and invite the Member States to consider integrating UN Secretary General’s Action Plan into their national plans.
Tajikistan has offered to host the Water Action Decade Conferences in Dushanbe on biennial basis and it is expected that the world community will welcome this proposal.
UN Secretary General’s Plan: Water Action Decade 2018-2028
Water Action Decade
A Ten Year Story – The Water for Life Decade 2005-2015 and Beyond
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The final outcome document of the conference will support the idea of Tajikistan to create an International Centre for the Water Action Decade in Dushanbe, with the support of the government of Tajikistan and other interested parties.
Tajikistan has shown keen interest in systematically dealing with all the issues related to rational and inclusive use of water.
An article of President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan appeared in the UN Chronicle – Water for Sustainable Development, in March 2018.
Here are some excerpts from his article:
In my statement at the First Asia-Pacific Water Summit in 2007, I noted that “…the world development trends suggest that the cost of water might exceed the cost of oil, gas, coal and other natural resources essential for the sustainable future of each country and region”. Numerous studies conducted over the past 10 years proved, with facts and figures, the accuracy of that statement and encouraged the international community to focus on addressing water issues.
I am pleased and proud that my country, the Republic of Tajikistan, has made and continues to make a substantial contribution to this process. From 2000 to 2016, at the initiative of Tajikistan, the United Nations General Assembly adopted seven resolutions on water. Among them are International Year of Freshwater (2003);1 International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015;2 International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013;3 and International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028;4 which deserve special attention. Throughout this period, Tajikistan has repeatedly provided a platform for discussing global water issues.
The Friends of Water group, established at the initiative of Tajikistan in 2010, currently comprises 51 United Nations Member States, making a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion of water-related issues, as well as to the adoption of relevant decisions within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly.
Tajikistan has also been an important player in solving water problems at the regional level. About 60 per cent of water resources of the rivers in Central Asia (the Aral Sea basin) are formed in Tajikistan, and our country generously shares this vital resource with our neighbours. Tajikistan is a co-founder of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and its two commissions, the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) and the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD), which provide platforms for discussing urgent transboundary water issues in the region.
In Central Asia, where the water source mainly originates from within the territories of the two upstream countries—Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—and the lion’s share of this water is used by the downstream countries—Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—intergovernmental water cooperation is the key not only for addressing water problems and issues of social and economic development, but also for ensuring peace, stability and security.
Water cooperation acquires even more significance today against the backdrop of the ever-increasing impact on the region of challenges such as climate change and population growth. For instance, in Central Asia in the 1960s per capita water supply was equal to 8.4 thousand m3 per year, while today it has experienced a fourfold decrease, accounting for up to 2.1 thousand m3 per year. This amount exceeds the global indicators by almost eight times.
Meanwhile, the population growth rate in the region, at more than 2 per cent per year, is among the highest in the world, and freshwater resources are steadily depleting.
According to experts, the Central Asian glaciers, which are the main source of water for the rivers in the region, have been diminishing on average by 0.6 to 0.8 per cent per year in terms of glacial area, and by 0.1 per cent per year in terms of ice volume. The current situation demands that urgent measures be undertaken to adapt to the dramatic effects of climate change and to promote the sustainable management of water resources in the region. This can be achieved only through the coordinated actions of all countries involved in constructive regional cooperation, with due consideration to their respective interests, the improvement of the institutional and legal framework, and a significant increase in investment in infrastructure.
Numerous studies and analyses of the impact of global challenges such as climate change, population growth and urbanization have been done. It is clear that these challenges will affect global demand for fresh water. By 2030 it will increase by 50 per cent, creating a 40 per cent deficit in available freshwater resources.
According to various institutions and experts, over 844 million people in the world still do not have access to safe drinking water, 1.8 billion people drink water from sources contaminated by faeces, and 2.4 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation. It is projected that by 2050, 2.3 billion more people will be living in regions with increased stress on water resources.
In our view, a number of issues must be taken into consideration before further steps are made in this direction.
- Financing. The financial and economic crises of recent years continue to negatively affect the efforts of Member States to ensure adequate financing for the water sector. In this regard, support of initiatives aimed at improving financing for the water sector, including the use of existing global investment funds, such as the Green Climate Fund, is essential and timely. This is especially relevant for developing countries. It is estimated that an investment of $15 to $30 billion in improving water management in developing countries could yield an immediate economic gain of up to $60 billion. In this context, increased funding for the water sector from the state budget acquires special significance. It should also be noted that despite a steady increase in the share of official development assistance (ODA) in the water sector, the total amount allocated for ODA remains unchanged and has not exceeded 5 per cent since 2005.
- Investment and infrastructure. Modernization of existing infrastructure and the building of a new one, as well as the integration of new technologies, will undoubtedly play a key role in ensuring reliable regulation and effective use of water resources, therefore making a significant contribution to improved water security. For example, the construction of large and medium-sized reservoirs and hydropower plants allows for a reliable regulation of run-off during climate variability, generates inexpensive and environmentally sound electricity, protects territories and population from mudflows and floods, assists in mitigating the effects of drought and significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. A properly designed infrastructure project can help resolve an entire range of problems. The private sector can play an important role in this process by creating public-private partnerships and other mechanisms.
- The transition to “green growth “ and the nexus approach. As a renewable source of energy, water significantly contributes to ensuring green growth, which presupposes that the economy will gradually refuse to use non-renewable sources of energy. Today, hydropower accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s electricity production. Meanwhile, available resources and opportunities can allow to significantly increase this number. An integrated approach is necessary for addressing the issues of population growth, such as an increase in food and electricity production, and meeting other needs. For this reason, the transition to integrated water resources management and the application of the nexus approach are essential to achieving these goals.
- Involvement of all stakeholders. The establishment of a multilateral partnership mechanism involving all stakeholders in the discussion of water-related issues will ensure balanced decisions, with due consideration to everyone’s interests. Women can play a vital role in this process.
- Transboundary cooperation issues. The development of water diplomacy is a key tool for resolving intergovernmental water-related issues. A total of 145 countries are located in international river basins, and the well-being of their populations depends on the availability of well-established water cooperation. Lack of such cooperation poses serious risks and costs, leaving many problems unresolved, which has a negative impact on the economic and social situations in countries that share common river basins.
Article of President Emomali Rahmon in UN Chronicle
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Other related links:
UNESCO – World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)
UNESCO – Water Security
UNDP – Water and ocean governance
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
SDG Knowledge Hub
High Level Panel on Water
UN – Water Action Decade