International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028

Lack of access to a safe drinking water source, basic sanitation and sound hygiene alongside with water scarcity and water pollution constitute one of the major challenges for the international community, especially for developing countries. Increasing water related disasters, climate change, urbanization, population growth, desertification, and drought with the lack of capacity to ensure integrated water resource management further exacerbate this situation.

 To address these interlinked challenges the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution to declare 2018-2028 as an International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development. The event was inaugurated by the UNGA on World Water Day (22 March) of this year.

To mobilize efforts of the governments, UN institutions, international and nongovernmental organizations, as well as other stakeholders at all levels for effective implementation of the UN’s water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as goals and objectives of the International Water Decade, a High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028, was held in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan on 20 and 21 June.

In his speech at the inauguration of the conference, the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon stated:

I hope that following the results of today’s event, held in cooperation with the UN and other partners, effective practical steps will be developed to implement the internationally agreed goals and objectives in the field of water resources. At the same time, the following facts indicate that mobilization of common efforts has not yet produced the desired effect: More than 800 million and 2.5 billion of the world’s population, respectively, do not have access to safe drinking water and basic services in the field of water sanitation; Annually up to 300,000 children under the age of five die due to lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation; All this indicates that we are still considerably behind in the practical implementation of the set goals and objectives in the field of ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

In addition, the situation in achieving sustainable water management is complicated by the negative impact of climate change. It is known that global climate change negatively affects the volume of freshwater resources and their quality, thus exposing different countries and regions of the world to even greater environmental stress. Today, more than two billion people in the world experience water stress. According to experts, by 2050 this figure can grow to five billion, and account for nearly half the world’s population. These two factors - global climate change and demographic growth will determine the scope and opportunities for our further actions. Along with these factors, there are other tasks that require an integrated approach and active water cooperation.

These include issues of increasing the overall efficiency of water use, reducing water pollution and re-use, and developing new technologies for obtaining fresh water on an industrial scale. The accumulated experience shows that it is difficult to achieve significant progress in the use of water resources overnight. Proceeding from this experience, the beginning of the decade for action, is aimed at forming a broad and open platform for strengthening and expanding the regular multilateral water dialogue with a focus on concrete actions.

To this end, we intend to convene every two years an International High-Level Conference on the implementation of the goals and objectives of the Decade. We also intend to strengthen work in this direction by creating an International Center for the Implementation of the Decade, in Dushanbe. Efforts to create mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the Decade should also be strengthened with the necessary human, financial and technical resources. According to calculations of the World Bank, only to achieve the two objectives of the 6th Goal of Sustainable Development, namely, universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation, will amount to US$114 billion annually.

Transboundary component of water cooperation is also an important issue. Effective, fair and mutually beneficial water cooperation can become a catalyst for the development of countries connected by common water basins.

He concluded by wishing all present at the conference, “a constructive and productive meeting’, and hoped the esteemed guests would have a pleasant stay in the sunny and hospitable land of Tajikistan.

The Times Kuwait