2018-2028 International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’

© UNESCO/Dom João

Sustainable development and integrated water resources management to implement SDG 6 through a lens of conflict prevention.We need safe, clean and readily available water to have a decent life. However, 844 million people today are missing this basic element of a decent life. 

We need sanitation for our good health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, more than a quarter of the world’s population does not have access to basic toilet and sanitation facilities. 

When water and sanitation are lacking, we all suffer because we are forced to compromise our health and human dignity. However, the disproportion of women's suffering is even greater, as they are also exposed to sexual violence. 

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the decade 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’. It will begin on World Water Day 22 March 2018 and end on World Water Day, 22 March 2028. 

The draft resolution emphasizes that sustainable development and integrated water resources management are crucial to reach social, economic and environmental goals. It stresses the importance of implementing such programmes and projects and promoting partnerships as well as the involvement of different stakeholders in order to accomplish the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing the implementation of SDG 6, which is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’.

Scarcity of water– exacerbated by climate change or water-related disasters – can cause tensions that can become violent conflicts between people, communities and countries. SDG 6 is also important to preventing conflicts and sustaining peace.

As the President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák stated on the implementation of the decade 2018-2018, ‘We must implement SDG 6 through a lens of conflict prevention. When basins and streams run dry, tensions flare – between communities, and across borders. We need to study the good examples we have seen of shared water management – and replicate them in other settings. We also need to invest in “hydro-diplomacy” and water-related mediation. Broader efforts to implement SDG 6 will have a direct impact on national, regional, and even international, peace.’ 

Mr. Lajčák also highlighted in his speech that ‘we will need more than action from governments to achieve SDG 6. Strengthening water infrastructures and systems costs money. And we will need a lot more of it, from different sources. We also need to create environments in which innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish. This will demand involvement from many partners: the UN system, civil society, the private sector, financial institutions, and regional, national and local authorities […] So, as we look to where we are headed, I want to say that: It is up to us – the people who can take our access to water and sanitation for granted – to work even harder on behalf of those who can’t.’

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