Water for Life Decade launched on World Water Day
World Water Day 2005 celebrated on 22 March will be guided by the theme of the International Decade for Action, 'Water for Life' while the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) is the UN body designated to coordinate WWD 2005 activities.
As this International decade established by the UN in Resolution A/RES/58/217 begins, the United Nations and governments are seeking to galvanize efforts to meet the internationally agreed targets of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.
“This is an urgent matter of human development, and human dignity”, stated United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his message to launch the Water for Life Decade. “Together, we can provide safe, clean water to all the world’s people. The world’s water resources are our lifeline for survival, and for sustainable development in the twenty-first century.”
Meeting the targets on water and sanitation would also contribute significantly to the realization of other United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including reducing poverty, promoting gender equality, reducing child and maternal mortality and providing universal primary education. The importance of achieving these two targets, together with that of achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, was behind the decision by governments to focus on these three issues in the first two-year cycle of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development’s new programme of work. For more information on the International Decade for Action Water for Life, please visit www.un.org/waterforlifedecade
UNEP accords high priority in its activities to the protection, conservation and efficient use of global water resources in response to the growing severity of water-related environmental problems worldwide.
Because freshwater does not stop flowing at river mouths, but flows right into coastal waters, UNEP has pioneered addressing integrated coastal area and river basin management in a holistic and integrated approach.
To address water issues effectively and fully, UNEP works in coordination with partner organizations, governments, the private sector and civil society.
During its 23rd Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum UNEP has adopted an updated water policy and strategy as a general framework/guidance for the activities of the United Nations Environment Programme in the field of water and sanitation for the period 2005–2007, to be implemented with interested countries, upon their request.
The updated water policy and strategy recommends that the Executive Director in his review takes into account areas of interest and concerns relating to, among other things, the following concepts:
• Ecosystem approaches to integrated water resource management;
• Emerging concepts;
• Global assessment and monitoring;
• Innovative instruments;
• Participation and water governance;
• Support to regional and subregional water bodies;
• Mention of the final report of the World Commission on Dams;
• Conceptual precision in the use of the terms “global waters”, “international waters” and “transboundary waters” applied to oceans, seas and inland bodies of water.
The full text of the Decision 23/2:Updated water policy and strategy of the United Nations Environment Programme is accessible at http://www.unep.org/gc/gc23/documents/GC23Decisionsadvancetext-14Mar05.doc