UN Secretary-General Warns of Water Draining through Overconsumption, Unsustainable Use

New York, March 23 (QNA) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored that water is a human right and critical to development that will shape a better global future. “But water is in deep trouble”, he warned. “We are draining humanity’s lifeblood through vampiric overconsumption and unsustainable use, and evaporating it through global heating.”

In the opening session of the UN Water Conference, on Wednesday, Guterres said ” We’ve broken the water cycle, destroyed ecosystems and contaminated groundwater.” The UN chief noted that nearly three out of four natural disasters are linked to water, and a quarter of the planet lives without safely managed water services or clean drinking water. Furthermore, 1.7 billion people lack basic sanitation, half a billion people practice open defecation, and millions of girls spend hours each day just to fetch water.

“This conference must represent a quantum leap in the capacity of Member States and the international community to recognize and act upon the vital importance of water to our worlds sustainability and as a tool to foster peace and international co-operation,” the Secretary-General said.

Guterres called for action in four key areas, starting with closing what he called “the water management gap”.

He said governments must develop and implement plans that ensure equitable water access for all people while also promoting water conservation, and they must work together to jointly manage this precious resource.

His second point, on the need for massive investment in water and sanitation systems, highlighted the proposed SDG Stimulus Plan and reforms to the global financial architecture aimed at ramping up investment in sustainable development.

“International financial institutions should develop creative ways to extend financing and accelerate the re-allocation of Special Drawing Rights. And Multilateral Development Banks should continue expanding their portfolios on water and sanitation to support countries in desperate need,” he said.

His third point focused on resilience because “we cannot manage this 21st century emergency with infrastructure from another age.” Guterres called for investment in disaster-resilient pipelines, water-delivery infrastructure, and wastewater treatment plants, and in new ways to recycle and conserve water.

The Secretary-General also called for addressing climate change, his final point. “Climate action and a sustainable water future are two sides of the same coin,” he said.

He urged countries to “spare no effort” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and deliver climate justice to developing countries.

In his remarks, UN General Assembly President Csaba Korosi noted that the international community is now at “a watershed moment”.

Korosi said the international community must acknowledge that water is “a global common good and adjust policy, legislation, and financing accordingly,” urging countries “to work in favour of people and planet, not procrastination and profit.”
“We know that we cannot fulfil our promise of sustainability, economic stability and global wellbeing by speeding up conventional solutions,” he said.

President of the Economic and Social Council Lachezara Stoeva said while water is the essence of life, the international community is not doing enough to care for this precious resource. The world faces many more challenges since the first United Nations Conference dedicated to water was held in 1977.

The Conference is an opportunity for the international community to move ahead and develop a bold, clear plan of action that includes disadvantaged groups, she said. (QNA)