United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Statement by Mr. Zephirin Diabre
Associate Administrator of UNDP
at the High-Level Segment of the Thirteenth Session of the
Commission on Sustainable Development
21 April 2005
Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join the High level Segment of the Thirteenth Session of the
Commission on Sustainable Development and to have the opportunity. to discuss the
policy decisions and practical measures for implementation in the areas of water supply,
sanitation and human settlements. The United Nations Development Programme has
closely followed the deliberations of CSD-13 over the last couple of weeks. We welcome
the policy decisions of CSD-13 and the contribution these decisions will make to the
Millennium Summit Review later this year.
2005 is a very important year for the international community to make accelerated
progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Halving the proportion of people without access to water and sanitation by 2015 will
require commitment and action by all countries - rich and poor - not only in terms of
increased resources but also a global effort to unleash the huge human, institutional and
societal capacity of programme countries' to achieving the MDGs.
The United Nations Development Programme supports programme countries to develop
national capacity to take an integrated approach to water resource management through
effective water governance. UNDP is working at the country level in partnership with
national and local public sector insitutions, civil society organizations, bilateral and
multi-lateral organizations, the private sector and our UN partners to support
Governments to implement their commitments in the areas of water supply, sanitation
and human settlements. We recognize the importance of water to poverty alleviation,
human health and ecosystem protection, from global to grassroots levels. One example
of our work to ensure a nexus between poverty and environment issues is the UNDP
Poverty and Environment Initiative. This is a programme that aims to help countries
address the ways in which access to environmental assets affects the livelihoods, health,
security and empowerment of people living in poverty. UNDP also provides support to
integrate environmental concerns of poor and vulnerable groups into national policy and
planning frameworks for poverty reduction and sustainable, pro-poor growth.
Mr. Chairman,
I would like to briefly comment on the ways in which UNDP supports programme
countries to make progress on the specific areas of action agreed upon here at CSD-13.
Firstly, access to basic water services. As we are all aware the world has an extraordinary
challenge to address with 1.1 billion people lacking safe drinking water. This means
connecting up to 275,000 people a day to clean water supply between now and 2015.
Building on experience of UNDP's Local Initiatives for the Environment (LIFE) and the
GEF Small Grants Programme, UNDP has initiated the Community Water Initiative to
support communities and households to build on their own skills, capacities and
resources to identify and implement affordable solutions to local water resource
challenges and link local management of services with sustainable livelihoods. For
example, UNDP has supported communities in Guatemala to pump ground water for
drinking using solar energy and in Olkinyei, Kenya natural springs have been protected.
Through the Community Water Initiative we have helped communities to promote
dialogues and facilitated South-South knowledge exchange so countries can draw on
lessons learned elsewhere and make informed choices on policy options that are best
adapted to their own circumstances.
Secondly, access to basic sanitation. 2.6 billion people currently lack basic sanitation.
Conventional sewage systems, based on flush-toilets, have failed to solve the sanitation
needs for developing countries. Over 95%o of sewage in developing countries is
discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas. UNDP supports access to
sustainable sanitation for the poor through a mechanism called 'Ecosan'. These are
ecological sanitation systems in Mexico and several other countries that are designed to
safeguard human health as well as the health of the environment: saving water, protecting
the environment, and improving soil fertility and food security.
Thirdly, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Like many of you here, we
believe that integrated water resource management (IWRM) is a key to achieving the
MDGs and to reducing vulnerability to natural disasters. UNDP approaches development
issues through a multisectoral lens and has been fully engaged in helping to facilitate
multi-stakeholder processes for the preparation of Integrated Water Resource
Management (IWRM) Plans as well as actions to carry them forward.
Given the lessons learned from supporting riparian countries in basin-wide dialogues,
UNDP will enhance its efforts to support countries, at their request, to develop
mechanisms for shared river basin management. We believe that UNDP has a role to
play as a neutral partner and facilitator in these dialogues.
IWRM can also be used as a tool for identifying and filling critical gaps such as the
linkage between water and disasters. In too many parts of the world we are seeing an
increase of vulnerability to natural disasters as droughts and floods take a devastating toll
on human life and dignity. Adaptation to climate change must be one facet of our
response, but focusing attention on other aspects of natural resources management - such
as watershed and soil protection, preventing the overexploitation of aquifers, reduction of
pollution of freshwater and oceans and the protection of mangroves is equally urgent.
UNDP's corporate priority in crisis prevention and recovery works to prevent natural
disasters and manage natural resources and our position and role within the GEF
enhances our ability to support countries efforts to this end.
Fourthly, human settlements. Support in the area of local governance is closely linked to
the challenges of human settlements. In partnership with various organizations,
particularly UN-HABITAT and other UN agencies, UNDP is assisting governments to
address issues such as participatory budgeting, urban agriculture, strengthening
secondary cities, promoting healthy rural-urban relations, and addressing the challenges
of urban and rural poverty.
As the questions of land, property and resource rights emerge as a particular challenge,
UNDP is joining a number of partners in a new multi-stakeholder effort to bring asset
security for the poor into the mainstream of the development dialogue. We consider asset
security as the means to provide people living in poverty with access to services, legal
protection and the means for them to become significant players in national development
and emerge from poverty. In addressing asset security we must reflect gender equality
issues and the empowerment of women.
Fifthly, a few words on `UN Water'. UNDP supports a coordinated approach to the
implementation of the water and sanitation agenda and we have been actively
participating in `UN Water' since its inception. We welcome efforts underway to ensure
that coordination, information sharing and monitoring of the water and sanitation agenda
is carried out by the appropriate UN agencies.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, meeting the MDGs is an enormous challenge, but one that
is within reach if both developing countries and the donor community step up
commitment and action to implement agreements in the areas of water supply and
management, sanitation and human settlements and ensure that country policies and
practices reflect this priority. We trust that the conclusions of the deliberations here this
week will provide renewed impetus to these efforts and strengthen their impact.
Thank you.