Have you ever considered how much water you use daily? We all need water to survive but some of us have much more water to use than others. Year 2013 has been declared as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. The objective of this International Year is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services.
UN International Years are declared by the United Nations since 1959 in order to draw attention on major issues and encourage international action to address concerns which have global importance and ramifications. The UN General Assembly recognized water and sanitation as a basic human right in 2010 to highlight the central role of water in eradication of poverty and hunger.
The importance of water cooperation lies in the fact that water is a cross-cutting issue which demands attention at all levels and across sectors. Water cooperation will be a cornerstone to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring water security and a sustainable future.
Earlier this year, the MDG target to halve the number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water was met. Since 1990, more than 2 billion people have gained access to drinking water. Despite this progress, over 10 % of the world’s population – 783 million people – still remain without access to safe water. Lack of proper sanitation is also a major issue in many areas, and the burden of poor water supply falls most heavily on girls and women.
As Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women said, during the Stockholm Water Week in September: “As we move towards the 2013 international year for water cooperation, we need to catalyze alliance, knowledge sharing, commitment, innovations, actions and financing to address issues related to affordability, accessibility and availability of safe and sufficient water for all at all levels. UN Women will be a strong advocate for leveraging women’s voice and influence in water governance.”
The main objective of the year is to form strong and lasting partnerships and initiatives on water cooperation that will be essential in helping to maintain peace and security among nations, communities and stakeholders, while ensuring the fair and equitable distribution of water resources for society and the environment.
The International Year will be kicked off in Zaragoza, Spain, by the UN-Water Conference in January. Throughout the year, featured events will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris as well as in many other parts of the world.
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