World Water Day 2013 calls for international cooperation around water
The need for international cooperation on managing and protecting water as a resource of sustainable development and growth was the focus of the World Water Day celebration at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today.
“Water holds the key to sustainable development, we must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource,” said the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in his video message declaring the opening of the International Year of Water Cooperation.
World Water Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992 with the idea of increasing public awareness on the value of water and to promote sustainable water resources use. Each year, it highlights a specific aspect of freshwater, with this year being dedicated to International Water Cooperation.
“There is a continuous need to accelerate regional cooperation on exchanging experiences and knowledge within Asia-Pacific, to enhance and transform water resource management and its efficient services to people,” said Mr. Hongpeng Liu, ESCAP Chief of Energy Security and Water Resources Section, Environment and Development Division, in his opening statement at the Bangkok commemoration. “The answers on how to make this transformation would come from successful models, frameworks and joint efforts in delivering partnership outcome oriented projects.”
Regional cooperation through the sharing of information and good practices is particularly important to address challenges and concerns presented by the slow and uneven progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Globally, an estimated 876 million people lack reliable access to improved water sources and 2.63 billion do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. In Asia and the Pacific, 480 million people still don’t have access to safe drinking water and 1.9 billion people are without access to sanitation.
With population growth and rapid urbanization, the pressure on water resources is intensified as national economies grow. The anthropogenic climate change is considered to link 90% of water related disasters, such as intensive floods, droughts, storms and cyclones. These challenges and risks are affecting the water cycle, posing a new threat to water security, in particular, to food and energy security.
In the lead up to the observance, ESCAP conducted a two-day Expert Group Meeting in Bangkok, on Improving Access to Water, Sanitation and Energy Services in Asia and the Pacific, by addressing the Water-Food-Energy nexus. This looked at the harmonized approaches, strategies and policies necessary to address specific Water-Food-Energy nexus issues in Asia and the Pacific.
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