United Nations leads joint action on disaster risk reduction and water

AliyaBy Aliya Yagudina, Intern in SNDatUN Office


“2015 is not just another year, it is a chance
to change the course of history.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The Second UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters took place on 18 November 2015 at the 70th session of the General Assembly, held at the beginning of the UN High-level Water and Sanitation Days and a day before the World Toilet Day. The opening remarks were addressed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mogens Lykketoft, President of 70th session of the General Assembly, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, and Dr. Han Seung-soo, UN Special Envoy on Disaster Risk Reduction and Water.

Water Aliya 1The meeting was set to highlight the issue of “Water and Disasters” and discuss the concrete initiatives for the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris (30 November-11 December 2015), World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (May 2016), and Habitat III in Quito (October 2016), based on the universal framework for sustainable development in the form of the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The main objective of the event was to promote an international cooperation to take a joint action on disaster risk reduction and water along with other key global issues aimed to achieve sustainable development.

Children collect contaminated water in Haiti

Children collect contaminated water in Haiti

As the Secretary-General pointed out, SDG 6 on water and sanitation is at the core of the 2030 Agenda and is fully integrated across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which is directly linked to climate change, health, food security, access to energy, resilient infrastructure, ecosystem, and urbanization.

“Water is the source of life, health and livelihoods across the world. The provision of safe drinking water is one of the basic responsibilities of national and local government”.

The Secretary-General emphasized that water-related disasters, such as floods, droughts, tsunamis, and storm surges, account for 90% of all disasters that affected people since 1990. The catastrophes caused by water have influenced societies in both developed and developing countries. However, poor are the most vulnerable people have suffered “first and the worst”.

Water Aliya 2

A child plays at a dried-up pond in India.

Therefore, it is crucial for the international community to work unitedly and in partnership to tackle the challenges that threaten our planet and the entire humanity. The world governments along with the civil society, businesses and science must strengthen coherence and cooperation. It is necessary to prioritize common goals and targets, adopt effective mechanisms to address water and disaster issues, and to build a resilient society, able to analyze the risk to be better prepared for disasters.

As H. E. Ban Ki-moon concluded: “Solutions exist.  We have the tools. Our challenge is to connect the dots and work  in an integrated manner towards the goals we share.”

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