The 1st Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters was held in March, 2013 and contributed to promote understanding the necessity of international discussion on water and disasters and to recognize water and disasters as one of the most important and pressing issues to be urgently addressed among the highest levels and the international community.
This September, 17 goals with 169 targets were approved as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we can see some targets on disasters in SDGs. International discussions to achieve the goals and targets have just started. It was high time to accelerate our efforts to share our experiences and lessons learned, strengthen regional coordination and collaboration and make progress towards creating a better-prepared and resilient society.
Based on these backgrounds, the 2nd UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters was convened by the Secretary-General of the UN, and fruitful discussions were held by Ministers in charge of water-related disasters, specialists in international organizations and NGOs.
Followed by the opening remarks by the Secretary-General, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan made a speech on ‘Quest for better relations between people and water’ and emphasized that ‘Learning from good practices can be a short cut to better water management’ and the importance of making international opportunities to learn from each other to solve water problems.
The 2nd Special Session consisted of the High-level Panel Debate, Major Group Panel and Science Technology Panel. H.E. Dr. Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister, Department of Public Works and Public Housing, Republic of Indonesia and Senior Advisor of NARBO offered presentation, and Dr. Keizrul bin Abdullah joined the High-level panel discussion of the 1st session. H.E. Dr. Basuki Hadimuljono introduced the strategy and policy on water resources management with water-related disasters in Indonesia and stressed the importance of working in a network, where each party is having their own rights and responsibilities. Dr. Keizrul bin Abdullah explained the situation of Asia by focusing on water-related disasters and underlined the necessity of innovative solutions, adaptation/flexible solutions, adoption of River Basin approach and building resilience and reducing risk and making more opportunities of sharing knowledge and experiences.
Regarding innovation, Dr. Toshio Koike, Professor of the University of Tokyo and Director, International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) moderated the Science Technology Panel and summarized ‘Key Directions and Actions’ such as i) Improve data collection, sharing, integration and dissemination; ii) Advance inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research on flood and drought risk reduction; and iii) Promote regional cooperation by mobilizing existing international initiatives for supporting local/national efforts.
The special session was completed successfully. Dr. Han, Seung-soo, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea and Chair of HELP summarized that the session recognized that addressing the issue of “water and disasters” was critical element and the core of achieving sustainable development. The participants of the Special Session shared the important common understanding and recommendations including the necessity of continuous discussion on water and disasters and the expectations to the role of the UN.
On 20 November, 2015, the Closing Ceremony UNSGAB was held at the UN Headquarters. His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan, Honorable President of UNSGAB and His Royal Highness, the former Prince of Orange, Former Chair of UNSGAB offered impressive speeches at the opening session. As concrete achievements of UNSGAB, final report named “The UNSGAB Journey” was released at the ceremony, which can be downloaded at ‘https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/8701unsgab-journey-web.pdf’
NARBO has contributed to the activities of UNSGAB through such activity as UNSGAB Strategic Dialogues. Chairperson of NARBO joined the closing ceremony and dialogue meeting and emphasized the importance of the view point of river basin and role of RBO on water resources management, and it was reflected at the panel discussions of the closing ceremony.
In this way, NARBO is contributing to the international discussions recently, and influence and value of NARBO has increased steadily among international organizations. As committed by ‘Manila Declaration ’, NARBO has bridged the gaps between international discussions and the field of IWRM with support and contribution of member organizations.
ⅱUnited Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB)