Summary: 30 March 2015, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States delivered by H.E. Mr. Ioannis Vrailas, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the High Level Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly The International Decade for Action, âWater for Lifeâ: Progress achieved and lessons learned for sustainable development
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States
The EU and its Members States welcome the opportunity of discussing the progress achieved and the lessons learned from the International Decade “Water for Life”.
This debate is timely, as water is -prove to be crucial to sustainable development and safety and stability. Dramatic statistics show the dimension of the problem, with about 80 percent of the world’s population lives in areas with high water security threats and still millions of people living without clean water. The impact of climate change only further aggravates these risks, acting as a multiplier for water shortages, poor water quality, droughts or floods. As recently proved by the tragic experience of cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, extreme weather phenomena could affect the development of a country, by severely damaging its infrastructure and basic livelihoods.
At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders acknowledged that water is at the core of sustainable development. They also committed to the progressive realization of access to safe and affordable drinking water and basic sanitation for all, and to significantly improve the implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels. We are pleased to see that this approach is effectively mirrored in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals.
Our actions are oriented towards an integrated approach to managing resources effectively and efficiently, to improve water quality and to protect the aquatic environment. On top of EU Member States contributions, since 2007, the European Union has provided nearly 2.5 billion Euro to water and sanitation projects in more than 62 countries worldwide. During the period 2004-2013, EU aid has made a significant difference in the fight against poverty by providing access to clean water to more than 70 million people and sanitation to over 24 million of people across the world.
It remains important to recall that progress on access to water and its sustainable management is only possible with good governance in place which ensures transparent decision making including the full involvement of local communities and other stakeholders. In this endeavour, women should be better associated and empowered.
Another lesson learned is the centrality of regional and trans-boundary cooperation, as a factor of social and economic development, but also for peace and security. It is also essential to highlight the multiple benefits of a broad approach linking health considerations to the access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Europe is a land of shared waters. Our own experience is that of joint prosperity through better regional cooperation of water management. In this respect, it is important to recall the EU macro-regional strategies (for Danube, Baltic, Adriatic and Ionian regions) or the Black Sea Synergy. These strategies build upon the element of sustainable management, by addressing regional cooperation on water from the perspective of environment protection, sustainable use of resources, economic and social development and people-to-people contacts. Moreover, at EU level, the legal framework put in place since 2000 introduced integrated water resources management, with a view to achieving good water status.
We should be all aware of the need to manage well the effects of climate change, demographic and economic development, as well as the different uses of water, to prevent tensions and conflicts over access to this resource. Societies, countries and regional organisations can only address and manage these challenges through comprehensive responses, building upon regional and trans-boundary cooperation, cross-sectorial coordination and capacity building. The European Union welcomes the “Sanitation and Water for All” initiative as one of the key partnerships to catalyse political leadership and action, improve accountability and use scarce resources more effectively.
Of particular importance in pursuing the mentioned objectives are regional and global water agreements, particularly the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Helsinki 1992) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (New York 1997) which entered into force in August 2014. As the UNECE Convention opened to all UN Member States in February 2013, all Member States are encouraged to ratify and become Parties.
It is clear that water cooperation is one of the major challenges of our times. However, water cooperation also provides opportunities for shared prosperity and sustainable development. We remain fully committed to work with partners in order to ensure global ownership and partnership on the promotion of sustainable and equitable management of water resources. In this context, we also look forward to contributing actively to the success of the World Water Forum, to take place in few weeks time.
I thank you.
- Ref: EUUN15-037EN
- EU source: European Union
- UN forum: General Assembly (including Special Sessions)
- Date: 30/3/2015