Tuesday, 11th March 2014, 9:30 am - 1:00 pm
Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York
The International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC) 2013, declared by the UN General Assembly resolution, was a landmark year for the water and sanitation for community. A series of High-Level Events were organized to raise awareness of the potential and challenges for water cooperation, facilitate dialogue among practitioners, and promote innovative solutions for nurturing water cooperation, among them the High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and the official World Water Day Event held in The Hague on 22nd March, 2013 and the High-Level International Conference held in Tajikistan in August, 2013.
In addition, a number of open and inclusive consultations were also organized during that year, including the “Post-2015 Global Thematic Consultation on Water”. All the stakeholders from around the world were encouraged to take stock of the lessons learned from the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to indicate the key global water-related challenges to inform the post-2015 development framework. Participants suggested that the future water agenda should seek to achieve the MDGs and other existing commitments but also to build on them and go beyond.
The United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters which was held last March at the Headquarters of the UN highlighted the importance of this emerging issue on water and disasters. Most recently, the UN Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Han Seung-soo, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea as Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water.
As the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”, 2005-2015, was coming to an end, A SPECIAL EVENT ON “Taking Stock of the International Year of Water Cooperation and Advancing the Global Water Agenda after Post-2015” was held on 11th March, 2014 at Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York to take stock of the achievements and lessons learned from the International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013 and to discuss how to carry the global water agenda forward among the Permanent Missions of Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, Tajikistan and Thailand, the members of the Steering Committee of the Water Friends Group and the UN-Water which is the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater and sanitation related matters.
The Special event was attended by more than 70 representatives of the Permanent Missions to the UN, international organizations and national governments.
During the opening session, H.E. Mr. Sirodjidin Aslov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan welcomed the delegates and stated the rationale of the events by introducing the result of the High-level International Conference on Water Cooperation which was held last August in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. H.E. Mr. Sirodjidin Aslov stressed that Water Resources Management should be streamlined, broad framework of water cooperation at all levels are needed and water policy should be decided based on the scientific data.
Following the speech by H.E. Mrs. Simona Miculescu, on behalf of H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe, President of the 68th session of the General Assembly, the statements about water were offered by H.E. Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UNESCO, H.E. Mr. Katsuhiko Takahashi, Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director for Sustainable Development, UNDESA.
Following the opening session, Roundtable 1 was conducted and moderated by Mr. Jerome Deli Priscoli, Senior Advisor of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources with the discussion on ‘the International Year of Water Cooperation and Beyond’ As a keynote presentation, Mr. Siegfried Demuth, UNESCO stressed the importance of water for progress across many sectors such as from education to health, from food security to risk reduction and talked about the result of the International Year of Water Cooperation by showing a single, focused goal, to advance water security for poverty eradication and sustainable development.
After the keynote speech, 3 panelists talked about lessons learnt from the experiences of these years and stressed the necessity of looking ahead to the Post 2015 agenda. Following the statement of the panelists, consideration of the issues of gender on water and necessity of enhancing the understanding of the issues of transboundary rivers and lakes were raised from the floor.
At the conclusion of the round table 1, the moderator stressed the necessity of i) increasing capacity of negotiation, ii) financing, iii) political will and institutional change in implementation of IWRM and iv) role of women and youth in disaster risk reduction .
In the Roundtable 2 session, discussed were ‘Sharing lessons and experiences on water and disasters’ by answering to two questions such as 1)‘What are your important lessons/experiences on water and disasters?’ and 2)‘Do you wish the international organization (i.e. UN-GA) to continue discussions on water and disasters? If yes, what decisions/discussion on water and disasters do you expect at global (the UN) level?’ by 6 panelists. At first, moderator explained the background of the discussion by introducing what were discussed at the United Nations Special Thematic Sessions on Water and Disasters held on 6th March, 2013 at the HQ of the UN and special side event of water and disasters at the High Level International Conference on Water Cooperation which was held on August, 2013 in Tajikistan. The panelists answered to the questions and stressed the following:
Now, Abnormal is now becoming normal.
Necessity of risk assessment, preparation for the worst case scenario and development of institutional arrangement
Creation of the management framework to support Disaster Risk Management
Cooperate with all levels
Outside of’ Water Box’
From the floor, the following comments were made: i) consideration to the water scarcity such as too little water and drought, ii) importance of the issues of pollution and iii) good infrastructure, good management and governance of water and relationship with human activities and risk.
Regarding the second question such as ‘Do you wish the international organization (i.e. UN-GA) to continue discussions on water and disasters? If yes, what decisions/discussions on water and disasters do you expect at global (the UN) level?’, all panelist answered ‘Yes’ and agreed to the continuous discussions at the UN, especially at the General Assembly. Panelist also agreed that we should need more water discussions to explore going ‘outside of water box’.
At the end of the events, Mr. Sultom Rahimov, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources of Tajikistan concluded the special event and stressed the importance of water cooperation and disaster risk reduction, and necessity of more platforms for discussions to make decisions and actions, and the event was completed successfully.
Dr. Kezrul Bin Abdullah, Chair, Network of Asian River Basin Organizations (NARBO) was invited to the event as one of the panelist of the roundtable 2. Dr. Abudullah introduced lessons learnt in Asia and told i) Water disasters are the major concern in Asia, ii) Impact/Cost increases with the passage of time, iii) Impact beyond national borders, and iv) Preparedness can mitigate impact by introducing what have happened in Asia such as Thai flood in 2011 and the big cyclones which hit India. Dr. Abdulla, stressed that ‘Abnormal will be new normal’ and warned of the current situation at the conclusion of his presentation and contributed to the panel discussion. In addition, Mr. Tadashige Kawasaki, NARBO Secretariat in Japan Water Agency also contributed to the management of the round table 2 as one of the temporary staff of secretariat for the High-level Expert and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) which was established in June, 2013 from the United Nations Secretary General Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB)
NARBO organized the sessions to discuss IWRM and disasters at the Side Event of the United Nations Special Sessions on Water and Disasters in March, 2013 at the Headquarters of the United Nations and contributed to raising awareness among international society and member countries of the UN. In addition, NARBO’s 3 years Action Program which was approved in the 5th General Meeting of NARBO in 2013 indicated that NARBO cooperated to the actions for discussions on ‘Water and Disasters’. Dr. Keizrul Bin Abdullah, Chairperson of NARBO was one of the members of HELP and contributed to the discussions at HELP. NARBO will continuously contribute to the discussions on water and disasters based on the action program from the practitioner’s point of view at the field level and IWRM.