"Turning Political Commitments into Action"
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen;
This year we are celebrating the importance of 50 countries coming together 60 years ago in San Francisco to draw up the United Nations Charter, which lead to the establishment of the United Nations.
In 2005, we have the opportunity to make decisions that are worthy of this celebration.
In 2000 we, as UN member states, promised to deliver on 8 concrete goals. There are targets attached to the goals. The targets are measurable. Not only that, they are also achievable.
The targets are achievable - if we do more, if we do it right - and if we do it now.
As chairman of CSD-12, my aspiration was to see the international community, the donor countries, national governments, the financial institutions and the private sector put practical work on the ground at the top of the agenda.
We managed, through review, to mobilize political will to move forward encourage alliances and partnerships to drive the process forward.
Sustainable development can easily be made into something abstract. But - the reality of no development is by no means abstract to too many people.
There are however some positive developments. Take the first water-related target:
Þ A considerable number of countries - supported by a number of actors - are expected to reach the target of developing integrated water resources management and efficiency plans by 2005.
This is an important first step toward much needed sustainable water resources management that will benefit the poor.
Now we need to increase our efforts at reaching the other targets in water, sanitation and human settlements. Progress here is - as you know - much more uneven.
Progress is not least a prerequisite if we are to succeed in meeting the other MDG-goals. This is because the different challenges in development are interlinked:
· In the developing world, 90 percent of the wastewater is discharged untreated, causing adverse impact on ecosystems and livelihoods. Deaths caused by waterborne diseases are estimated to represent a global economic loss of more than a staggering 186 billion USD.
· Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from waterborne diseases. Many of the victims live in slums and most are children. These are children that could have attended school, gained the means of a way out of poverty and later in life contributed to much needed economic growth - if only safe water supply and adequate sanitation were provided.
The case for meeting the targets on water, sanitation and human settlements is obvious and the interlinkages with other areas are clear:
No water - no life. No sanitation - no dignity. No shelter - no security.
It has been estimated that each 1$ invested in achieving the targets on water and sanitation would yield an economic return of between $3 and 34$, depending on the region. This is a 200 percent return - at a minimum!
I suggest that this should form the message from the CSD-13 to the MDG Summit in September: Reaching the targets in water and sanitation is an investment that will pay off in terms of economic growth and lasting poverty alleviation.
Sanitation has for too long been the orphan of the water agenda. It is however the bigger challenge in terms of the number of people affected - 2,6 billion people are without basic sanitation. The social impact is as shocking as AIDS and as solvable as polio.
42 percent of our fellow human beings need to do without what we all take for granted - a toilet. The report by the Task Force on Water and Sanitation quotes Barkha, age 12, from India: "I do wish that I get married into a family which has the facility of toilet and separate water tap. It is a dream for me."
Let’s put the dream of a toilet and a water tap into reality - it’s doable.
2005 is a critical year. We must scale up our efforts to meet the sanitation challenge as well as the other challenges in water and human settlements:
Firstly, governments in developing countries must make strong commitments, not least by making sure that water and sanitation are firmly anchored in national Poverty Reduction Strategies.
Secondly, there is need for more and better coordinated donor engagement, in particular for the poorest. In this, good governance is a must.
Thirdly, the targets in water, sanitation and shelter will not be reached without private sector involvement. The foundation for private sector involvement must be strengthened.
Fourthly, we need to increase innovation in a number of areas. In meeting this challenge, we do not least need to involve and mobilize global science. Any strategy to meet the MDGs requires efforts to build scientific and technological capacities in the poor countries. This will enable them to find local solutions to local problems.
A year ago at CSD-12 we identified the challenges that needed to be addressed. The CSD-13 now has to make the decisions necessary to make implementation in water, sanitation and human settlements a reality.
Agreement on the Millennium Goals was an outstanding achievement on the part of the UN. Let us now honour the 60th anniversary of this important organisation by agreeing on bold actions to reach the Goals.