UN: Opening Segment of the Water Dialogue
22 March 2017: Statement by H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, at the Dialogue to discuss improving the integration and coordination of the work of the United Nations on the water-related goals and targets under its sustainable development pillar, with a particular emphasis on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
H.E. Mr. Sirodjidin Aslov Muhridinovich, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan
H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations,
H.E. Dr. Han Seung-soo, UN Special Envoy on Disaster Risk Reduction and Water
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here to address the first United Nations Water Dialogue, on this – World Water Day.
I welcome Tajikistan and Hungary to the Dialogue, which they will be co-moderating throughout the day.
I also extend a warm welcome to Dr Han Seung-soo, Special Envoy on Disaster Risk and Water.
The central aim of World Water Day is to bring focused global attention to tackling critical water-related issues affecting our world. It is therefore befitting that we should mark this day with the start of our discussions on how the United Nations can improve – and I quote – “the integration and coordination of the work of the UN on the water-related goals and targets under its sustainable development pillar, with a particular emphasis on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
In 1972, I began my career as a District Officer in Fiji working on rural development. Central to this work was the installation of piped water supplies and water-seal toilets in remote villages. World Water Day is thus dear to my heart, as is all our work on SDG6.
As we meet, catastrophic drought and famine are affecting millions of people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Outbreaks of cholera and other preventable diseases are exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in these countries.
With nearly 1 billion people across our world not having access to safe water, with more than a quarter of world’s population lacking access to basic sanitation, and with hundreds of children dying needlessly each day from preventable diseases resulting from poor sanitation, the lack of universal clean and safe drinking water is increasingly understood as a human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security imperative.