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Decade of Action for Water Resources

Final declaration on Promoting Action and Strategic Dialogue was adopted

Saturday 23 June 2018

DUSHANBE (Satrapia) — The final declaration on Promoting Action and Strategic Dialogue was adopted following the results of the International High-Level Conference on the International Decade for Action Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028, held in Dushanbe on June 20-21. The conference was held to discuss ways to achieve the objectives of the Decade contained in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 71/222 of 21 December 2016 and to promote the implementation of the Agenda for Sustainable Development through 2030.

The heads of state and government, ministers and other high-level officials participated in this historic event together with representatives of international and regional organizations, local authorities, civil society, the private sector and academia.

The President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, identified sustainable development as a priority. Therefore, on World Water Day, 22 March 2018, he launched the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028 aiming to further improve cooperation, partnership and capacity development in response to the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Dushanbe Conference provided a platform for formulating recommendations ahead of the next session of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which, among other issues, will discuss Goal 6 of sustainable development Accessibility and sustainable water management and sanitation for all. The conference was based on the results of the Eighth World Water Forum, the High-level Panel on Water, the Decade for Action Water for Life and other important activities and platforms related to water at the global and regional levels.

The participants of the conference decided that the theme of the second Conference on the Decade for Action on Water will be “Stimulating action on water and partnership at the local, national, regional and global levels”.

Water challenges

Recent milestone agreements, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Paris Agreement, have placed water at their heart. Guaranteeing sustainable water management is a vital element to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and other relevant goals in the social, environmental and economic fields.

Clean, accessible water is critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger, and it is indispensable for human development, health and well-being. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, water-related challenges, including limited access to safe water and sanitation, increasing pressure on water resources and ecosystems, and an exacerbated risk of droughts and floods, remain high on the global agenda.

Lack of clean water is responsible for more deaths in the world than war. About 1 out of every 6 people living today do not have adequate access to water, and more than double that number lack basic sanitation, for which water is needed. In some countries, half the population does not have access to safe drinking water, and hence is afflicted with poor health. By some estimates, each day nearly 5,000 children worldwide die from diarrhea-related diseases, a toll that would drop dramatically if sufficient water for sanitation was available.

Water for drinking and personal use is only a small part of society’s total water needs — household water usually accounts for less than 5% of total water use. In addition to sanitation, most of the water we use is for agriculture and industry. Obviously, water is also needed for ecological processes not directly related to human use. For a healthy, sustainable future for the planet, developing methods of ensuring adequate water supplies pose engineering challenges of the first magnitude.

From digging wells to building dams, engineers have historically been prime providers of methods for meeting the water supply and quality needs of society. To meet current needs, which increasingly include environmental, and ecosystem preservation and enhancement demands, the methods will have to become more sophisticated.

One large-scale approach used in the U.S., China, India, and other countries has been to divert the flow of water from regions where it is plentiful to where it is scarce. Such diversion projects provide some short-term relief for cities, but do not appear practical as widespread, long-term, ecologically sound solutions, and this method generally will not be able to meet agricultural needs. Furthermore, diverting water to some people often means less for others and can become an explosive political issue.

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