2017/02/14 Geneva, Switzerland
It has been emphasised why a new water decade is key to meeting the world’s development needs. The United Nations General Assembly’s unanimous adoption of the resolution “International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development” last December demonstrates the international community’s concerted will in the right direction.
To set the agenda in motion, UN-Water, in its 26th meeting in Geneva last week, decided on the establishment of a Task Force to facilitate its support to the planning and organisation of the Decade. The Task Force will be co-coordinated by the UN-Water Secretary (permanently held by UN-DESA) and Reza Ardakanian of United Nations University (Director of UNU-FLORES). Upon inviting Members and Partners to join the Task Force, the latter will begin work between now and the start of the Decade on World Water Day 2018.
The December Resolution establishes a new Decade in support of the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 and other sustainable development-related goals. Amongst the key objectives is a greater focus on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources, as well as on continued cooperation and partnership at all levels. It also calls on UN-Water, as the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater-related issues, in the planning and implementation of the Decade.
Taking place 6–7 February 2017, the Geneva meeting was chaired by Guy Ryder, Director-General of International Labour Organization, currently holding the rotating chairmanship of UN-Water. Besides UN-Water Members and Partners, several Member States (Canada, Finland, Germany, Korea, Netherlands, Switzerland, Tajikistan, and the USA) also attended the meeting as Observers.
Having once served as host of the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC), the United Nations University is well-positioned to support the new Decade, which emphasises the generation of new information and knowledge, the very mandate of the Organisation.
In the Rector’s letter to the UN-Water Chair, he pointed out how UNU’s 13 research institutes spread over 12 countries together play a key role in the area of water research and capacity development within the UN and in the broader scientific community.
Several UNU institutes focus specifically on water-related research themes, such as water scarcity, water quality, water-related environmental and health challenges, while also researching new approaches to governance and financing. More recently, UNU’s research programme has been broadened to include a focus on the nexus of water and migration, as well as a focus on the nexus of water security and climate change.
Together with UNU-FLORES, the key UNU institutes taking these research programmes forward are the Institute for Water Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), the Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), and the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA).Together these institutes cover the breadth of the scientific challenges that the 2018–2028 Water Decade intends to tackle.