19 October 2011

World Water Week Statement to the Rio+20 Summit

Editor's Note: the following text is quoted verbatim from a statement issued by the convening organizations at the Stockholm World Water Week conference and exposition that was last held during 21 - 27 August 2011.  That annual event is organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), which also hosts the UN Development Program (UNDP) Water Governance Facility (WGF) and the Swedish Water House (SWH).  The statement addresses the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, also known as the "Rio+20 Summit" in celebration (and evaluation) of the landmark UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio in 1992. 

The preliminary agenda for the upcoming UNFCCC COP-17/CMP-7 meeting in Durban, South Africa, indicates no recognition of water and related issues to be addressed there.  Our best hope to get water on the global political agenda, other than the annual meetings at Stockholm WWW and the 6th triennial World Water Forum, to be held in March 2012, is likely through the UNCSD process.  

That is, short of convening a regular UN Conference on Water Sustainability to concatenate and analyze in real policy terms the outcomes from all the other initiatives and conferences... 

The Stockholm Statement to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20 Summit)

Water is the bloodstream of the green economy. Water, energy, and food are interlinked and interdependent; securing them is central to alleviating poverty and to creating a climate resilient and robust green economy. Population growth, expanding cities and accelerating economic activity increase the demand for energy and food and create unsustainable pressure on our water and land resources. By 2030, in a business as usual scenario, humanity’s demand for water could outstrip supply by as much as 40 per cent. This would place water, energy and food security at risk, increase public health costs, constrain economic development, lead to social and geopolitical tensions and cause lasting environmental damage.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20 Summit) provides an opportunity for global leadership to harness economic activity at all levels to create new and sustainable development and eradicate poverty. The foundation for a resource efficient green economy must be built upon water, energy and food security – and these issues must be addressed in an integrated, holistic manner that values the natural environment and recognizes the carrying capacity of the planet. Action is critical at all levels to address inequities, especially for the ‘bottom billion’ who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services. It is imperative to ensure that adequate water and sanitation services are available to the world’s population in accordance with the resolution of the UN General Assembly declaring these as a human right.

Accordingly, over and above achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we call for a universal provisioning of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and modern energy services by the year 2030.

We call on local, municipal, and national governments and all major groups participating at the Rio+20 Summit to commit to achieving the following intervening targets by 2020:
  • 20% increase in total food supply-chain efficiency; reduce losses and waste from field to fork
  • 20% increase in water efficiency in agriculture; more nutrition and crop per drop 
  • 20% increase in water use efficiency in energy production; more kWh per drop
  • 20% increase in the quantity of water reused
  • 20% decrease in water pollution
In addition, we strongly urge that the following outcomes feature prominently within the Rio+20 Summit’s thematic focus areas:
  1. Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication
    • All governments commit to sufficient investments in safe drinking water and sanitation services and hygiene education for its people
    • The current measurements of economic performance are expanded and complemented by indicators on environmental and social sustainability
    • Economic and social incentives are created to promote water use efficiency and protect freshwater ecosystems
  2. Creating an institutional framework for sustainable development
    •  Commit to policy and institutional reforms that create an enabling environment for the coherent and integrated management of water, energy and food
    • Enact national legislation that guarantees access to water and sanitation for all and protect freshwater ecosystems
    • Create cross-cutting frameworks that bridge ministries and sectors, leading the way to water, energy and food security in a green economy
The achievement of the aforementioned targets and outcomes would help the global leaders assembled at the Rio+20 Summit to deliver a new model of human and economic development and ensure a real impact on human well-being across the world.

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