Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the Governments of Singapore and Tajikistan for co-convening this virtual Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Mid-Term Review of the Water Action Decade.
There is no doubt that safe and equal access to water for all is critical to reducing extreme poverty and supporting climate action.
This is particularly important to enhancing the gender equality and protecting human health, including during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-induced socio-economic crisis.
But the Asia-Pacific region has only 36 per cent of the world’s water resources and its per capita water availability is the lowest in the world.
Around half of the rural population in our region has no access to sanitation, whilst the demand for water is increasing at a fast pace due to a growing demand.
Untreated wastewater, persistent organic pollutants, plastic litter, and water competition among sectors, coupled with climate change are impacting access to fresh water and sanitation.
These water-related challenges are having a negative effect on agricultural production, food security and the health of ecosystems as well as overall advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The UN Water Action Decade 2018-2028 focuses on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources.
At the regional level, ESCAP is committed to achieving SDG 6 to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” in the region.
For example, we are involved in providing specific support to the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and to other Aral Sea Countries through initiatives such as the Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea Region under the auspices of the United Nations.
As a Member of UN-Water, which coordinates the efforts of UN entities and international organizations working on water and sanitation issues, we are advancing the UNSG’s Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs.
We are also co-coordinating the Expert Group on Regional Level Coordination, which provides a platform for discussing and pursuing regional-level coordination and collaboration on cross-cutting issues being addressed by UN-Water at the regional level.
This platform provides a regular mechanism for the exchange of regional information, knowledge and experience and the coordination of regional-level activities on water, sanitation and water-related issues that are being jointly pursued by UN-Water Members and Partners.
In view of this, the Expert Group aims to support the regional preparations for the UN Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Water, to be held in March 2023.
We are also engaged in the development of tools, learning courses and knowledge products on integrated water management, including on industrial water pollution and integrated freshwater and ocean management.
Let us work together and enhance partnerships to address new and emerging water-related challenges across societies and economies.
ESCAP, along with the UN system and other stakeholders, stands ready to advance the SDG 6 in Asia and the Pacific.
I wish you a very successful Regional Preparatory Meeting.
I thank you.