United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

United States of America

Statement of the United States
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting of the
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Statement by Diane Tate, Advisor, Water and Sanitation
3 March 2005
Thank you, Madame Chair. As we talk about linkages, I?d like to underscore one point that has
come up several times in our discussions, but bears repeating ? that is the importance of
participatory decision- making in building robust and sustainable democratic institutions.
Devolving decision-making power to the lowest appropriate level gives communities and
municipalities control over issues that affect them directly. Related to this, the participation of
women is vital to ensure equity and sustainability in service delivery, whether at the village level
or inside a national or regional institution.
Take the case of a community user group which debates the kind of water or sanitation service
that community wants, interfaces with a service provider, and collects fees for the service
provided, with financial information open to the whole community. Through this kind of
organization, people are directly involved in the fulfillment of their own basic needs. This is
about more than water and sanitation ? it is about governance that is inclusive, accountable, and
transparent. Similarly, integrated water resource management, or IWRM, advances fundamental
principles of good governance by bringing people with different perspectives to the same table to
manage a shared resource. IWRM can create a foundation for participatory decision- making that
reaches well beyond water, and helps to build democratic institutions.
We all need water, and all need to work to ensure basic water and sanitation needs are met. At
the same time, we shouldn?t forget the role that working on water can play in building
sustainable, participatory, and transparent decision- making institutions, at every level of
government. Thank you, Madame Chair.