Welcoming remarks by Mr. Luc Stevens on World Water Day Celebrations

22 Mar 2010

Your Excellency Mr. Samir RifaiYour Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a great pleasure for me to be here today in my capacity as UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative and to address you on this special event which brings together all partners who are concerned with the Water in Jordan on the occasion of the World Water Day.Jordan, as a member of the United Nations, joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Water Day. The Day is an initiative of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the aim is to raise awareness on the world water crisis as well as the goal of reducing by half the percentage of people who lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Every year, 1,500 cubic kilometers of wastewater are produced globally. While waste and wastewater can be reused productively for energy and irrigation, it usually is not. In developing countries, 80 percent of all waste is being discharged untreated, because of lack of regulations and resources. Population and industrial growth add new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water to the equation. Human and environmental health, drinking and agricultural water supplies for the present and future are at stake. Still, water pollution rarely warrants mention as a pressing issue. Each year more than 1 billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to resort to using potentially harmful sources of water. This perpetuates a silent humanitarian crisis that kills some 3,900 children every day and thwarts progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The consequences of our collective failure to tackle this problem are the dimmed prospects for the billions of people locked in a cycle of poverty and disease. The UN has chosen Clean Water for a Healthy World as the theme for World Water Day 2010. The overall goal for the World Water Day campaign this year is twofold. Firstly to raise awareness about sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being through addressing the increasing water quality challenges in water management. Secondly to raise the profile of water quality by encouraging governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to engage in proactively addressing water quality for example in pollution prevention, clean up and restoration. Water-scarcity is a global fact - 4 of every 10 people in the world do not have access to a simple pit latrine and 2 in 10 have no source of safe drinking-water. Jordan faces the same challenges as any other country in terms of reducing water scarcity; providing the necessary infrastructure; balancing different and sometimes conflicting needs; and managing sectoral policies. In addition, there is a need to address cross cutting issues such as climate change, diseases and gender in the water resources management planning process. UNDP Jordan is therefore engaging in water sector reforms in order to assist the Government of Jordan ensure equity and efficiency in meeting current and future challenges. UNDP Jordan is willing to use various instruments which have been developed at regional and international level to facilitate effective management of water resources for a healthy environment. These include financial and technical support to implement various initiatives within the Water sector, mainly the newly launched UN Joint Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change to Sustains Jordan’s MDG Achievements with special emphasis on water sector. Also, the UNDP Regional Programme on Water Governance, promotes an integrated approach to water resources management in the Arab Region. The Programme is envisaged to act as a catalyst for effective water governance through : 1) Integrated Water Resources Management; 2) Local management of water resources, water supply and sanitation; 3) Capacity building and institutional strengthening; 4) and preparing the State of the Water Report for the Arab Region. In addition, the project will be addressing some cross-cutting dimensions such as adaptation to climate change, trans-boundary water management, gender mainstreaming and awareness raising. These initiatives are geared towards sustainable development, and utilization, protection and control of national water resources. They all embrace the integrated water resources management (IWRM) principles, and we hope that by successfully implementing them, we shall go a long way in solving some of the water problems faced by Jordan.
The World Water Day is a unique occasion not just to highlight the magnitude of the problem, but also to bring all stakeholders together to apply solutions that work. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the Government of Jordan for giving due attention to this event. Thank you.