United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


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IUCN Statement on Integrated Water
Resources Management
Delivered by Achim Steiner, Director General
13th Session of the UN
Commission on Sustainable Development
21 April 2005
New York
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IUCN Statement to 13th Session of the Commission on
Sustainable Development
New York, 21 October 2005
Thank you Mr. Chair,
I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on a number of recent reports that inform our consideration
of the issues of water, sanitation and human settlements.
The Millennium Project Report, the Secretary General?s ?In Larger Freedom? and the Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment provide a series of powerful tools to connect our discussions to the upcoming
Millennium + 5 Summit in September.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in particular points out that ?the loss of services derived from
ecosystems is a significant barrier to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce
poverty, hunger, and disease.?
In terms of water, we are reaching our limits. Some rivers no longer reach the sea, and groundwater
levels are falling dramatically in many parts of the world. We are seriously undermining the capacity of our
life-support systems to provide us with the water resources that are vital to the lives of people and the
economies of countries.
IUCN is encouraged by many of the positive developments taking place to reach the MDGs. Increasing
ODA levels, creative financing mechanisms, and governance innovations are all steps in the right
direction. Two other technical suggestions to ensure sustainability of water supply are the implementation
of environmental flows and the use of economic valuation of ecosystem services in planning and
Mr. Chair, the actions and options proposed by the esteemed delegates are based on practical
experiences in their countries and reveal innovative solutions that are applicable elsewhere. Such
solutions are urgently needed.
But within them and beside them, we need more investments in ecosystems to maintain the goods and
services they provide. This is not just essential to ensure sustainable supplies of water, it is vital to
achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals.
Mr. Chair, I would like to cite a few examples of such investments, based on IUCN?s own field experience
and partnerships:
Implement environmental flows
Environmental flows offer a set of tools to rationalize the allocation of water, to protect downstream users
and ecosystems, and to ensure the long-term prosperity of a river basin.
Strengthen governance at all levels and involve stakeholders
Water governance can be improved at all levels, from local community involvement, to national level
planning, to transnational basin-wide cooperation through legal review and stakeholder participation at all
2 ½ Statement
Apply economic valuation and payment for environmental services
Valuation of multiple water use and ecosystem benefits provides decision-makers with additional
information that improves development decisions. Furthermore, it is the basis for the development of
innovative payment schemes for environmental services, which help to maintain some of the vital
ecological services of freshwater basin ecosystems.
Institutional Follow up
Finally Mr. Chair, IUCN endorses the call for regular, systematic monitoring, assessment and reporting on
the broad range of policies and measures that countries, international organizations, civil society, the
private sector and local communities are undertaking to meet the MDGs and other internationally agreed
targets and goals. IUCN stands ready to contribute to this important work in partnership with others.
Thank you Mr. Chair.
Created in 1948, IUCN - The World Conservation Union brings together 79 States, 114 Government agencies, 800 plus NGO?s,
and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. IUCN?s mission is to influence,
encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of
natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.
IUCN is the world?s largest environmental knowledge network and has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national
conservation and biodiversity strategies. IUCN is a multicultural, multilingual organization with 1000 staff located in 62 countries. Its
headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.