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World Water Day Summit highlights distressing water situation
BY 2017-03-23 08:52:31

CAPE TOWN, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations World Water Day Summit and Expo kicked off in the South African coastal city of Durban on Wednesday, highlighting a bleak global picture regarding water and sanitation.

At the summit which coincided with the World Water Day, the 2017 World Water Development Report was officially launched.

The report presents the distressing situation the international community currently finds itself in with regard to water and sanitation.

The summit called for immediate action to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, in particular, SDG-6 on Water and Sanitation.

The United Nations World Water Assessment Program's High Level Panel on Water also took the opportunity to launch the "Access to Water and Sanitation Services for 10 Billion People Initiative."

The panel organized the summit to draw attention to the current dismal global status of water and sanitation and to inspire commitment to an urgent "Call for Action" by world leaders to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The panel called upon all leaders to contribute more and to build on what they are already doing in their respective countries, such as by advocating and championing activities and actions in support of the implementation of SDG-6.

This includes the launching of so-called "light house initiatives" as best practice and models and the hosting of international and regional conferences to share information.

The bleak global picture presented in the 2017 World Water Development Report requires world leaders to urgently prioritize the improvement of access to essential water and sanitation services, South African President Jacob Zuma said at the summit.

It was disclosed at the summit that 147 countries have met the SDG drinking water target, while 95 countries have met the sanitation target and only 77 countries have met both.

These statistics do not do justice in conveying the development and health challenges faced by so many people, or in contextualizing how unevenly these basic services are distributed around the world and within societies, Zuma noted.

For example, it was reported that in 2011, nearly 60 percent of the world's one billion extremely poor people lived in just five countries. It seems that little has changed since 2011.

"Looking ahead, this unacceptable situation will only get worse, unless we join forces around the world to create equal chances for success at all levels in our race against time to secure the most precious resource of freshwater, for current and future generations," Zuma said.

The United Nations Commission on Population and Development estimates that the global population, which currently stands at about 7.3 billion people, may grow to 9.7 billion by the year 2050, with as many as 3.1 billion additional residents of urban areas.

The largest increase in population is expected to happen here in Africa, followed by Asia.

These are already among the region's most adversely affected by water and sanitation problems.

Zuma said the world has the potential to create a new and more positive economic and social developmental pathway through, among others, water infrastructure investments, valuing water, catalyzing change, building partnerships and international cooperation, as well as creating better human settlements and data.

"We have the United Nations 2030 Agenda to point the way. Here in Africa we have an even longer term and complementary sustainable development strategy in the form of the African Union's 2063 Agenda," Zuma said.

The three-day summit, under the theme "Water and Sanitation is a Human Right", will later adopt the Political Declaration on Water and Sanitation.

Every year, the world observes World Water Day on March 22, a day officially designated by the UN in 1993 to highlight issues relating to water.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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