Sustainable Water Resources: Priorities for Policy Frameworks and Best Practices
Distinguished delegates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen
- I am honoured to be here today at this key event on Water, which brings together public and private partners.
- We are grateful to the Swiss Government and Swiss Re for hosting this meeting, which will result in a memorandum for PrepCom IV
The Millennium Declaration, adopted by Head of States, set the world the following goals:
- To halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world's people whose income is less than one dollar a day, and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
- and, by the same date, to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water.
- This is what we are all working towards
- The consensus reached in Bonn, on a number crucial issues was a good step towards meeting these goals - here we hope to build on the Bonn recommendations
- Without adequate clean water, there can be no escape from poverty. Water is the basis of good health and food production.
- Water has always held a central role in the practices and beliefs of many cultures and religions - it is the primary building block of life - and is vital to sustainable development
- The Koran mentions that all life originated from water and that man himself is created of water
- The Incas believed that Lake Titicaca was the centre of the original world - water was the essential factor in the stability and prosperity of the Mayan peoples
- The Gikuyu tribe of Kenya believe that drought is a sign that the God is angry
- Mankind is always at the mercy of water for survival and development
- Water pollution, poor sanitation and water shortages kill over 12 million people every year. Millions are in bad health and trapped in poverty - much of their energy and time wasted in the quest for clean water
- The cost of providing water supply and sanitation to meet basic human needs is $ 20 billion annually (the USA and Europe spend $17 billion annually on petfood )- less than $20 could save a life AND give someone the chance of a better life (energy to work …)
- Water is vital to sustainable development. We must recognize the true dimension of the challenge we face. The challenge of ensuring sustainable water demand and use and supply of water to all - Appropriate water management is required to meet this challenge.
- Hindus believe that in their "sacred waters" distinctions of caste cease to exist - We too should use water to restore equity
- It would be wonderful if we could (adopt a Harry Potter approach,) wave a magic wand and give the world more water. But we are not wizards - We must take an integrated approach, which will ensure better use of the available water.
- The solutions are known- We need policy, planning, investment and regulation.
- The solutions urgently need to be put into practice.
- What has been done since Rio? FAR too little.
- National governments and international organizations, including (and especially) the UN must act coherently now - Act to save millions of people from certain death and miserable lives.
- Integrated water resources management is required to ensure:
- Sustainable demand and use
- Supply to all
- 88% of water used in Africa is for agriculture - some of which is exported to the developed world in the form of flowers and vegetables
- Often 60% of water is lost when being used for irrigation and 40% of municipal water is lost through leaks and other inefficiencies-contributing directly to poverty
How does this affect the poor (where I live)?
- In Nairobi slums clean water is virtually non-existent - Waterways are polluted, sanitation is close to non-existent - The cost of water is very high
- in rural Kenya women spend many hours walking to collect water - time which could be used more productively (- growing food, educating children or earning a living in another way)
- The struggle to obtain enough water for survival is a drain on human health, finances and energy - it soaks up assets which could be used to build a better life
- Develop water resources and manage them efficiently - reduce water loss
- Improve the management of water utilities in developing countries - Commercialization, can help where profits are ploughed back into improving services - private investment is vital to these initiatives - e.g. Water for African Cities: Accra, billing, collection and meter installation have been privatized -increased efficiency.
(needs due attention to avoid abuse of dominant market position)
- Good governance at national and international level - put in place policies, regulation and institutions which support and can sustain integrated water resources management
- Capacity building for improved management of water resources - Transfer of knowledge
- Raise awareness at every level - put into practice the least-cost (often simple) solutions for sustainable water conservation (e.g. roof rainwater collection, leak location, recycling and reuse)
- All planning, management and education should take account of climate change and the unpredictability of weather patterns.
- In Ancient Rome each Roman was supplied with around 1,000 litres of water per day. Today the average Roman's demand for water is more modest - it is influenced no doubt by cost
- There is a need to change water demand - pricing would encourage high water consumers to find and use new technologies (IETC can help)
- Water-pricing should reflect the true cost of the resource, encouraging more efficient use and discourages waste
- Water for the poor should be affordable - they are willing to pay for clean water - the price of dirty water is high in terms of health and potential loss of earnings
- Push for abolition of subsidies for large-scale water users (promotes waste and irresponsibility)(e.g Kenya breweries in Nairobi consume up to 5% of the total city supply, mainly for washing purposes)
- Subsidies on agriculture encourage increased production - leads to inefficient water use and increased pollution -(examples Africa, EU, N. America) -remove subsidies on agriculture
- The value of ecosystems should be taken into account in water allocation (and pricing?)
- Introduce progressive tariffs (e.g South Africa)
- Funds available, including aid (re)directed to projects which have taken account of all costs and benefits
As well as satisfying the world's demand for water we must also ensure that the water is CLEAN (polluted water is useless)
- Both the Koran and the Bible mention polluted water as a punishment from God
- Recognize the scope of the problem (at all levels)
- Develop projects to clean up water and raise awareness, especially of the solutions
- (e.g. Project for the Prevention of Accumulation and Disposal Measures for Obsolete Stockpiles of Pesticides in Africa
- Yemen: implementation of appropriate wastewater management strategies and National programme of action
- Apply polluter pays principle
- Water has to be brought to those who need it
- Human energy should not be wasted walking hours to the nearest water supply (6 -8 hours per family per day) -women could spend this time on more important matters
- investment in supply infrastructure (least cost most effective technology)
- Involve communities in the delivery decision-making- at present those without water often have no voice in water management and planning
- education in the better management of available water (especially women)
- Remember solutions are not always complex and costly
e.g. the Hippo Roller, a plastic barrel with a handle, which can be filled with water and pushed along like a wheel barrow. Women using it in South Africa can roll four times as much water as they used to carry on their head.
- Integrated concrete action will ensure
- Sustainable demand and use
- Supply to even the poorest slums
- Together we have the power to take action - the power to put in place the policies which will ensure water for those in need
- We should make every effort to give a new perspective to the millions of women trudging great distances to fetch water. We have to give new hope to the children suffering, and dying, from water related diseases.
- Let this year mark the start of action to meet the goals of the Millennium Declaration. Action. We have a great opportunity before us, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg. There the world can show real commitment to solving the problem of water.
- The Bonn Freshwater Conference recommendation provide clear guidance on what needs to be done - I trust that they will be reflected in your memorandum to PrepCom IV.
- Johannesburg will be a Summit of Partnership, I urge you all to play an active role in this partnership for the future - the UN is ready to act, but we need you, our partners
- Responsibility to act now, rest with all - both the developing and developed world
- I echo the hopes of Kofi Annan, that in Johannesburg we will see all stakeholders come together in a new coalition, "A coalition for responsible prosperity"
IF we agreed with the words of Mahbub al Haq :
" Sustainable development is a question of quality of life for the rich countries but it is a question of life for the poor countries".
I believe we have no choice but to act together responsibly to ensure water for all, for a better future.
- I wish us all the very best over the coming days, and look forward to working with you, to formulate a substantive document on water, for PrepCom IV.