Top UN official calls for “hydro-diplomacy”

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Children collecting water in Kallayanpur slum, one of the urban slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh. UN Photo/Kibae Park

Shared water resources have historically brought countries closer together and the international community must continue on that path, says the Deputy Secretary-General.

On Monday, a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York was convened to assess the progress made and lessons learned in achieving sustainable management of water and sanitation.

It is estimated that 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

The UN says that in the last 10-years, significant progress has been achieved in promoting access to water and sanitation and fostering cooperation on water issues.

Cathrine Hasselberg reports.

The international community has acknowledged the indispensable role that water and sanitation play for human health, well-being and sustainable development.

Despite progress, serious water challenges still persist, with as many as 1.8 billion people living in countries facing water scarcity by 2025.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson opened Monday's dialogue on water and sanitation in the post-2015 development agenda, highlighting the need for what he called "hydro-diplomacy".

"Instead of seeing water sharing as a problem, we have to treat it as a potential solution with the help of innovative and dynamic hydro-diplomacy. Let's really try to aim to develop models for making water a source of a reason for cooperation rather than a reason for conflict."

Jan Eliasson pointed out that shared water resources is a serious factor in maintaining peace and security in the world, not least when it comes to cross boundary arrangements.

The dialogue aims to carry the lessons learned from the ‘Water for Life’ decade which was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly to be observed from 2005 to 2015.

Cathrine Hasselberg United Nations

Duration: 1’17″

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