New global effort to tackle water and sanitation crisis

Posted: 24 July 2004

A group of high-level experts have been appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to ensure that the world stays on track to meet the UN development targets on water and sanitation.

The first meeting of the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation was held at the UN headquarters from 22 to 23 July.

In his statement to the Board, the Secretary-General said, "Today, one person in six will drink unclean water. One person in three will not have access to proper sanitation. And around 10,000 people will die today as a result of this preventable situation. That is unacceptable. The world has recognised that it is unacceptable. And it has also recognised that if we don't address water and sanitation issues, we can't have effective development strategies. That's why commitments were made in the Millennium Declaration in 2000, and at Johannesburg in 2002. The commitments were to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and to develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by next year, 2005."

Progress towards meeting these targets was reviewed at the Commission on Sustainable Development's session earlier this year which concluded that these goals will not be met unless there is a dramatic increase in resources and efforts. The UN has called for a high level political commitment for action, as well as substantial human and financial resources.

Mr Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan, will Chair the Board, consisting of a number of eminent persons, technical experts and other individuals with proven experience in government, the media, the private sector and civil society.

"We recognize that achieving the targets on water and sanitation are critical to reaching other Millennium Development Goals. This Board aims to move commitments related to water and sanitation to real action in order to achieve these targets," said Chairman Hashimoto.

The Board will base its work on the conclusions of several international meetings, among them the Millennium Assembly and this year's session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Related links:

UN Division for Sustainable Development