On 22 March 2010, United Nations observed World Water Day, with the theme “Water for Cities: Responding the Urban Challenge”. In Bangkok this event was hosted by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN-HABITAT. The event was officiated by the Acting Deputy Executive Secretary and Officer-in-Charge, a.i., of ESCAP, the Chief of UN-HABITAT Bangkok and the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Royal Thai Government. The observance began with a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read by the Acting Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
“In a little over a generation, 60 per cent of the global population will be living in towns and cities, with much of the increase taking place in the inner city slums and squatter settlements of the developing world. The theme of this year’s observance of World Water Day -- “Water for Cities” -- highlights some of the main challenges of this increasingly urban future” said Mr Ban. “Urbanization brings opportunities for more efficient water management and improved access to drinking water and sanitation. At the same time, problems are often magnified in cities, and are currently outpacing our ability to devise solutions. ”
The impact of rapid urbanization on water resources management and on equitable access to water and sanitation services are increasing. Facing a growing demand for water, cities around the Asia-Pacific are overexploiting available resources. With large sections of the urban population living in low-quality housing, in slums and squatter settlements, providing adequate water and sanitation facilities is a huge challenge and the urban poor end up paying up to 50 times more for a litre of water than their richer neighbors.
Mr. Chote Trachu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MoNRE) of the Royal Thai Government, gave a keynote speech about the challenges water resources management and urbanization in Thailand and pointed out the importance of commitment to integrate water resources management into the socio-economic development process as demonstrated by the vision of His Majesty the King Bhumibhol Adulyadej of Thailand during the past decades. He also announced the organization of the Second Asia-Pacific Water Summit which will be held in early February 2012 hosted by the Royal Thai Government.
The celebration of World Water Day continued with a presentation from Mr. Prapas Sangpradab, Bang Bua Community Leader, detailing the holistic upgrading of the Bang Bua Community area with a focus on water, sanitation and the neighbourhood environment around the community. The event included an exhibition at the UNCC. The highlight of the event was a field visit to the Bang Bua Community itself, on the outskirts of Bangkok.
The group visiting Bang Bua Community received a warm welcome by government officials, police, army and communities. The group was greeted with jasmine garlands, Thai classical dance and a drum band from the youth in community. The visit included boat trips to visit the decentralized water treatment facility. The ceremony to release Effective Micro-organism (EM) ball, to help fertilize the waste water at Bang Bua Bridge, concluded the World Water Day Celebration in Bangkok.
About 100 people, including members of the diplomatic corps, senior Thai government officials, representatives of UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attended the event at UNCC and among those attending, 50 participants joined the field trip to Bang Bua Community.