Under-Secretary-General Highlights Water-Climate Links at World Water Forum

UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang

17 March 2009: UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang addressed several audiences at the fifth World Water Forum, which met from 16-22 March 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey. During the opening ceremony, he suggested “four strategic actions on bridging divides for water,” including engaging with other policy communities on the nexus between water challenges and climate change, accelerating progress in climate change adaptation, and improving human and institutional capacity backed by adequate financial resources.

In a statement on 16 March 2009, to the Heads of State and Government at the fifth World Water Forum, Sha Zukang highlighted that: strong financial support to the water and sanitation sector must continue as part of governments' stimulus packages addressing the current financial and economic crisis; water is at the heart of sustainable development, and competing demands for water, particularly for food and energy production, are on the rise, while climate change further constrains water resources; and Integrated Water Resources Management should be pursued.

On 17 March 2009, he spoke on behalf of the UN Secretary-General at the launch the Water and Disaster Action Plan, prepared under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and noted that “water-related disasters, which are now increasing dramatically with climate change, have caused thousands of deaths and left millions of the most vulnerable of the world to rebuild their tattered lives.” He said the Advisory Board's Water and Disaster Action Plan provides an excellent tool for the UN System to mobilize and coordinate its efforts in assisting member States to face the challenge of natural disasters.

Also on 17 March, he participated in a panel discussion on water and finance, during which he suggested that “an important way of moving from policy towards action is to ensure water and sanitation issues are mainstreamed in the discussions on financing for development.” He discussed linking the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development on water and sanitation with the follow-up process to the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development, and said that, since within the UN Secretariat both processes are located within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, he would do his part “to help realize the potential synergies between them.” [Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang's Statements]