"It is important that we take care of nature, of rivers and springs, so that we can use this water"
Water is fundamental to our survival. It is a unique and irreplaceable resource. Having safe water is important for health, decreasing medical expenses, increasing the possibility of spending more time on work activities and increasing income. It also has an impact on the future of young people by reducing absenteeism from school.
Several Latin American and Caribbean countries highlighted the vital importance of water for societies, economies and ecosystems in the region. On this occasion, interventions and testimonies were given by Mr. Gustavo Villa Uría, President IHP National Committee of Argentina, Undersecretary of Public Works, Ministry of Public Works; Ms. Haydée Rodriguez, Vice-Minister of Water and Seas, Costa Rica; Mr. Aubyn Hill, Senator Minister of Water and Environment, Costa Rica; Mr. Aubyn Hill, Senator, Minister of Water and Environment, Costa Rica; and Mr. José Luis Rodríguez, Vice-Minister of Water and Environment, Costa Rica. Andrés Sanchez, Specialist, Department of Sustainable Development, OAS; Ms. Patricia Segurado, Sustainable Development and Environmental Health Advisor, PAHO/WHO; and Ms. Tanja Lieuw, Climate Change and Environment Policy Officer, FAO.
"The issue of water, as always when it comes to the environment, confronts us with our contradictions and our inability to take into account the fragility and scarcity of the resources we use in our daily lives,"
said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, in her message on the occasion of World Water Day.
"It is for this reason that we publish annually, with all UN-Water partners, the United Nations World Water Development Report. This Water Day is a call to action. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us, governments, partnerships and private sector stakeholders, to be aware of the value of water, and to act to preserve this vital resource,"
the Director-General stressed.
Complementing the global launch of the Report, the LAC launch brought together high-level policy and decision makers from the region, as well as members of indigenous groups and intergovernmental bodies, to explore the relevance and diverse values of water for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ms. Lidia Brito, UNESCO Regional Director of Science for Latin America and the Caribbean mentioned that the Report focuses on the value of water from several interrelated perspectives: water resources (water in ecosystems), water infrastructure for storage and use, water services such as drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, the contribution of water to production and socio-economic activity and other socio-cultural values of water, including recreational, cultural and spiritual attributes.
"UNESCO's role, mainly through the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (IHP-LAC) and its National Committees, is a facilitator of exchange and cooperation between the countries of the region on water issues, through its nearly 20 Centres and Chairs specialised in water issues," he said.
"Investing in water and sanitation is investing in our lives, in health, poverty eradication, food security, access to education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability,"
said Mr. Miguel Doria, UNESCO Regional Hydrologist for Latin America and the Caribbean. He also stressed that the value of the contribution of environmental services surpasses other economic values, being estimated at more than 100 trillion dollars a year, about two thirds of the world's GDP. On the other hand, lack of access to water and sanitation causes significant direct and indirect economic losses.
Lutana Ribeiro Albuquerque is Cacique general do Parque das Tribos, in Manaus, Brazil. Her community is the Cocama People, and a total of 35 tribes live in the park.
"The importance of water for us, indigenous peoples, is that it is fundamental for our survival on Earth, to feed ourselves. We have this immense amount of fresh water. The water of the whole planet is important. It is important that we take care of nature, of rivers and springs, so that we can use that water. We need the UN to help us preserve the freshwater basin of our state, of the Amazon and of Brazil.”
See the regional launch full event:
- UN World Water Development Report 2021: The Value of Water
- The Value of Water: a preview of the UN World Water Development Report 2021
- World Water Day