Science for Water

On 20 February 2018, UNESCO and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission co-hosted an information session entitled “Science for Water: Effective Solutions for Achieving SDG 6 and Water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda” at the UN Headquarters in New York.

In view of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water and sanitation and in the context of the upcoming “International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development” (2018-2028), the session was a platform to discuss the importance of addressing water-management issues, and to inform member states about the collective contributions of UNESCO and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to the implementation of SDG-6 and other water-related targets.

The meeting was moderated by Ambassador Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of St Vincent and the Grenadines to the UN and Vice President of ECOSOC.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd General Assembly emphasized the need to bridge the gap between science and policy to achieve water related goals.  Recalling the High-level event on water that he will be hosting on 22 March at the UN in New York, Mr. Lajčák further highlighted how leveraging scientific expertise can help find solutions and ensure water and sanitation for all.

H.E. Ambassador Vale de Almeida, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, noted the connections between water scarcity and the threats to peace and security.  With around 2.1 billion people around the world lacking access to water, he stressed the need for strong partnerships, global commitments and decisions based on data and evidence to tackle this issue.

Speaking on behalf of the Steering Committee for the Group of Friends of Water, H.E. Ambassador Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, stressed the importance of data for measuring progress towards SDG6 and other water related goals and targets. In this context he highlighted the upcoming release of the SDG6 Synthesis Report currently prepared by UN Water and coordinated by the UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme.

Mr. Vladimir Šucha, Director General of JRC and Ms. Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences of UNESCO, outlined the scientific efforts of JRC and UNESCO to achieve SDG 6 and other water related goals and targets. Both organizations presented a series of science based tools that could be used to guide policy and decision-making on water. Mr. Šucha highlighted the findings from the Global Surface Water Explorer, a database that maps the distribution of water surfaces at a global scale over the past 32 years.

Ms. Schlegel highlighted UNESCO’s holistic approaches to the implementation of water goals, and ways that the organization addresses the complexities and interlinkages of issues around water. Through its International Hydrological Program (IHP), World Water Assessment Program (WWAP) and a large network of UNESCO Water Centers and Chairs, UNESCO works towards expanding the knowledge base on water, building capacity for sustainable water management and strengthening the science policy interface for water related issues.

Watch the full meeting here.

In addition to this information session, Ms. Flavia Schlegel also briefed delegations in New York about UNESCO’s water related activities during a working breakfast hosted by H.E. Ambassador Michal MlynárPermanent Representative of Slovakia to the UN.