UN deputy chief urges swift action on sustainable water solutions

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (PHOTO: UN)
UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (PHOTO: UN)

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Sunday urged swift action on the newly-adopted Global Goals directly related to the protection and equitable use of the Earth’s precious water resources, as discussion continued at UN Headquarters in New York on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

While speaking at a meeting of the Friends of Water Steering Committee, Eliasson welcomed Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha, and President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan and spoke of the challenges that the committee faced.

“Worldwide, water demand is projected to grow by over 40 percent by 2050,” Eliasson said. “Population pressures, climate change and energy and agricultural needs have made finding sustainable solutions to water-related challenges an urgent and crucial task for ever more regions in the world.”

He then went on to highlight the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the water-related challenges within it.

“The litmus test for this new agenda will be implementation,” said Eliasson, calling for greater efforts to translate this vision into realities on the ground.

“Substantially transforming societies and economies requires political will, vigorous efforts, as well as ingenuity and innovation,” he said.

The deputy UN chief also noted the importance of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in providing a foundation for enhanced global partnerships that will ensure effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and spoke about the importance of collaborative efforts between governments, international and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and academic entities to find new ways to take action on the global water crisis.

He highlighted the work that UN-Water would be doing to provide support to ongoing efforts, and thanked Secretary-General Michel Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for his excellent leadership of UN-Water. He also welcomed Director-General Guy Ryder of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the new Chair of UN-Water.

“Water must never be a reason for rivalry or competition,” he said. “Water must be a source of cooperation and of shared security and prosperity. Let us remember that water is our primary source of life. So this is also, fundamentally, an existential challenge and a moral obligation.”