United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

WMO

Statement on the occasion of the
CommissTihoinrt eoenn Sthu ssteasinsaiobnle o Df tehveelopment
SecMre.t aJrayr-rGauedneral
(New York, 20 April 2005)
Omrmgeaotneniodsriaoatllioeognique
MWOreogtrealdonrizoalotigoincal
1h
i vn I ri uccASION OF THE THIRTEENTH SESSION OF THE
COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
by
M. Jarraud
Secretary-General
World Meteorological Organization
(New York, 20 April 2005)
Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and my own, it is an honour to address the
thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13). I am pleased to have the
opportunity of presenting to you some issues of importance in relation to water, which is this year's
theme on the programme cycle for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Several of
the MDGs are linked to the management of freshwater resources and sustainable development and,
additionally, it is estimated that about 90 per cent of all natural disasters are of hydrometeorological
origin. As you are aware, the less developed countries are most vulnerable to such disasters and their
limited resources, rather than invested in development, must often be diverted to relief and recovery
efforts. I will therefore try to illustrate some of WMO's contributions in turning political commitments into
action.
WMO's contributions follow two complementary paths. On one hand, it is a top priority for WMO to take
part in preventive action for natural hazards and in the corresponding recovery activities whenever
hazards, including the ones that are due to too much water or too little, go on to become natural
disasters. Even before the great tsunami devastated the Indian Ocean littoral countries on
26 December 2004, the year 2004 had already been marked by natural disasters of
hydrometeorological origin, with considerable loss of life and socio-economic impacts. Such disasters
ranged from one of the most severe tropical cyclone seasons in the Pacific and the Caribbean to severe
flooding in several parts of Asia.
However, it should be stressed that without WMO's global system of warnings, the loss in life and
property would have been even higher. In particular, as regards tsunamis, WMO's Global
Telecommunication System (GTS), interconnecting all the National Meteorological and Hydrological
Services (NMHSs) of the world, can permit timely and reliable exchange of warnings and messages
among the relevant organizations. WMO is joining forces with other UN agencies and in particular with
UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), in ensuring that a Tsunami
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Early Warning System (TEWS) may soon become a reality, in the Indian Ocean and other regions at
risk.
Hydrometeorological hazard risk reduction, vulnerability assessment and disaster prevention are
among the very important contributions of WMO in securing development and in supporting the
achievement of the MDGs. Coordinated international efforts in disaster risk reduction, which were
accelerated with the launching of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR),
were reaffirmed at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe (Japan) early this year. WMO
has adopted as a major objective to work towards reducing by 50%, over the next 15 years, the tenyear
average fatality of 1994 - 2003 associated to natural disasters of meteorological, hydrological and
climatological origin.
On the other hand, risk management principles based on preparedness, prevention, response and
recovery are also fully incorporated in sound water resources management practices. Less than one
percent of all water on Earth is, in fact, fresh water readily accessible for direct human uses. As was
highlighted by the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto (Japan), in March 2003, fresh water is a precious
and finite resource that is central to sustainable development, economic growth, social stability and
poverty alleviation. If it were to be distributed in harmony with human necessity, it should be sufficient
to support the needs of sustainable development. However, ever-expanding developmental activities,
unsustainable water consumption, and the growth of population, have turned water into a limited
resource as well as a limiting factor in the achievement of the MDGs.
This situation calls for an integrated approach to water, land and ecosystems management, to ensure
that future generations may be able to meet their water needs in a sustainable manner. Integrated
water resources management can help reconcile conflicting uses of water and provide communities
with the opportunity to utilize optimally their limited water resources. All national and regional
assessments on water, sanitation and human settlements issues should be carried out in a participatory
and integrated manner, and vulnerable regions clearly identified. Monitoring is the information
backbone and knowledge base for integrated water resources management and for building resilience
in society against water-related hazards.
Although many countries still lack reliable water monitoring programmes and possess very limited
information on water quantity and its quality, at the monitoring stage, WMO's National Meteorological
Services (NMSs) and National Hydrological Services (NHSs) play primordial roles. WMO is actively
supporting countries in improving data availability and reliability through its World Hydrological Cycle
Observing System (WHYCOS), which uses up to date technology including satellites, automatic
weather systems and advanced computing facilities. As weather, climate and the global water cycle do
not recognize any political boundaries, cooperation in these fields is natural.
As a specialized agency of the UN System and in collaboration with its partner organizations within the
framework of UN-Water, WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of
Its Members have seized the opportunity of providing enhanced diversified services in order to
anticipate, avert and minimize adverse impacts as a result of changes in water availability, extreme
events, desertification and other threats to man and the environment. Two things are quite clear:
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Firstly, that if surface and groundwater are not managed wisely, water will become an even
more limiting and fragile resource than it is today;
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Secondly, that integrated water resources management is indeed the key to securing
access to safe water, sanitation and protection of the environment.
Recognizing these facts, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa,
26 August to 4 September 2002)- in its Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, set the year 2005 as the
target for the preparation of national integrated water resources management and efficiency plans.
I therefore urge all countries to use the special opportunity provided by the standing commitment to
prepare plans for integrated water resources management by 2005.
Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Deliberations during the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development provide an
outstanding opportunity to foster partnerships and to join resources and concert efforts to reduce the
impact of disasters, assess water resources and improve access to water and sanitation, under the
paradigm of integrated water resources management. Please allow me to underscore that, as a
crosscutting issue, water should remain at the top of the international agenda. I therefore submit for
your consideration the need for a continuous monitoring and evaluation mechanism of progress that we
are making on this vital issue,
As a result of the tragic tsunami of 26 December 2004, the world community has demonstrated its
ability to act swiftly and effectively. This should set an example on how the world could also deal
decisively in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Indeed, unless the MDGs are in fact
achieved, the cumulative results may be comparable to those of many such tsunamis.
Thank you.
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