Enhancing transboundary water cooperation is crucial for accelerating progress ‎towards SDG6

Enhancing transboundary water cooperation is crucial for accelerating progress ‎towards SDG6: UNECE commits to help closing the current governance gap ‎

Published: 10 July 2020


“Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation for all is badly off track. This is hindering progress on the 2030 Agenda, the realization of human rights and the achievement of peace and security around the world.  Water and sanitation cut across all three pillars of the United Nations – peace and security, human rights and development. They are integral to each”. These were some of the words used by  UN Secretary-General António Guterres   at the High-Level Political Forum special event for the launch of SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework on 9 July.

The Framework is a new, unifying initiative developed and coordinated by UN-Water that involves all sectors of society to speed up progress on SDG6 by improving support to countries. It is part of the Secretary-General’s Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs.

Interventions from 10 Heads of UN agencies, ministers and civil society at the special event outlined the many cross-cutting reasons behind the significant delays in progress towards SDG6, linking with other SDGs. All highlighted the stark global inequalities in access to clean water and sanitation, which leaves over 2 billion people currently without access to safe drinking water. While COVID19 did not create these inequalities, it has severely exacerbated them.      

The central role of access to water in maintaining peace, was further stressed by the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, who stated: “Almost 60 percent of freshwater flows through over 250 water basins, distributed between 148 countries. Given the fragmented distribution, the only way we can manage the global water resources efficiently is through multilateral cooperation. The goal to provide safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 will remain elusive without harmony and synergy in our actions and policies related to water”.

His words were echoed by the Chair of UN-Water Water and President of IFAD, Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, who welcomed the role played by the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), serviced by UNECE, in accelerating progress in transboundary cooperation.

In this regard, UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova, announced that “at the global level, UNECE will support countries to improve and monitor inter-sectoral and transboundary water governance, focusing on development, implementation and financing of agreements, in order to prevent conflicts and promote development”. This will be mainly carried out within the framework of the Water Convention and reporting under SDG Indicator 6.5.2 (for which UNECE is co-custodian agency together with UNESCO).

As 2020 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the recognition of the Human Right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Ms. Algayerova also reaffirmed UNECE’s commitment to “ support countries to achieve access to water and sanitation for all and prevent diseases” through the Protocol on Water Health jointly serviced with WHO-Europe. This legal instrument   provides practical tools to countries to improve water, sanitation, hygiene and health related policies and realize the human rights to water and sanitation in an inclusive way.

UNECE will actively take part in the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, contributing to its governance, data and information and capacity-building accelerators together with key UN organizations to support countries in achieving SDG 6.

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Recording of the session: https://undesa.webex.com/recordingservice/sites/undesa/recording/22115faffb634904ba22bc48aa74d0c2  

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