Minister Schultz: ‘New UN structure needed to attain global water goals’

At the United Nations in New York today, Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment made the case for a new UN structure in order to ensure that the global water goals will actually be attained. This September, water was proclaimed one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. ‘This calls for a robust, decisive structure in which the global water issues are discussed and tackled across their entire scope, and which generates concrete, innovative solutions,’ according to Ms Schultz.

120 billion dollars per annum

In New York, at a meeting chaired by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, those attending discussed how the “water structure” within the UN should be fleshed out. This discussion was prompted by the Water and Sanitation Week. Water issues and disasters constitute an important component of this United Nations initiative. Minister Schultz: ‘Across the globe, the damage caused by floods is estimated at 120 billion dollars per annum. This does not even take account of the human tragedies involved. Water is a pivotal factor in putting a stop to global conflicts, and working on peace, justice and prosperity.’ According to the Minister, governments, the business community, civic society organisations and science must take action at all levels – locally, regionally, nationally, and globally, at the UN. ‘Attention is being paid to water issues, but currently in a fragmented and insufficiently concrete manner. We must combine our funds and human resources worldwide.’

Prevention

Minister Schultz is not only aiming to move flood disasters up the agenda, she also focuses on collaboration and the actual implementation of measures. According to Ms Schultz, the new platform must comprise independent working groups, focusing on implementation. ‘We have plenty of fine plans but we tend to slacken when it comes to carrying them out. We need practical solutions, such as the projects the Netherlands proposed in the Mekong Delta Plan in Vietnam, and the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100.’

HELP

On Tuesday, 17 November, prior to the UN meeting, the High Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) discussed this same topic. Minister Schultz is vice-chair of the HELP panel. ‘Prevention pays off. The dividend is invaluable: fewer casualties, less damage, and in the long run economic growth and stability.’