The Director-General of UNESCO, and HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, UNESCO special Envoy for water, addressed the Permanent Delegations to UNESCO on Water

The Director-General of UNESCO, and HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, UNESCO special Envoy for water, addressed the Permanent Delegations to UNESCO on Water
  • UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 25 June 2006, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura convened an Information Meeting to update Permanent Delegations on one of the Organization’s principal priorities: water. HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, UNESCO Special Envoy for water, also attended the meeting.

The Director-General highlighted that “water is increasingly acknowledged as being the basis for sustainable development”. “In fact, it is now clear that unless we learn how to better manage the world’s freshwater resources, then the international community will not success in meeting its development objectives”.

Mr Matsuura first recalled UNESCO’s vital and leading role in the management of freshwater resources, a role that is well recognized both within the UN system and by governments and external partners. The Director-General noted that such leadership would not have been possible without the encouragement of UNESCO’s Member States, nor without the support of Prince Talal, “who has shown himself to be not only a most effective ambassador on behalf of freshwater but also a good friend of UNESCO”.

The Director-General then went on to summarize the major outcomes of the World Water Forum, which was held in Mexico City on 16-22 March, and in which UNESCO, because of its wide-ranging activities in water, enjoyed high visibility. He also outlined the principle themes of the Second World Water Development Report (WWDR), which focused – under the title ‘Water: a Shared Responsibility’ – on the challenge of governance in managing freshwater resources. “The Report argues that the solution to many, if not most, of the world’s water-related problems lies first and foremost in better governance”.

Mr Matsuura proceeded to review UNESCO’s freshwater activities, drawing attention to the holistic and multidisciplinary approach that the Organization has always adopted to the challenge of securing the sustainable management of water resources. The Director-General drew particular attention to major initiatives aimed at linking water and cultural issues, as well as to UNESCO’s work in water education, notably under the aegis of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), of which UNESCO is the lead agency.

“I would like to underline, once again, that the water problems we face today cannot be solved by science and technology alone. As the second World Water Development Report amply demonstrates, in order to find sustainable solutions to water problems we must strive to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse social and cultural dimensions of water management. It is only through a holistic approach to sustainable management that we will achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. As we all now know, the achievement of this goal is absolutely crucial to our success in meeting all of the Millennium Development Goals and building a sustainable future”, he said.

Mr Matsuura finally informed delegates of the next phase of the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), in which UNESCO will continue to play a lead role. He noted the new emphasis that would be placed on developing assessments at the regional, national and river basis levels, and the part that UNESCO’s ‘category II’ centres would play in contributing to a better understanding of water management issues at the country level. The Director-General furthermore expressed his great appreciation for the generosity of the Italian Government in offering to host the Secretariat and to fund some of the Programme’s activities in its third phase. The Secretariat will move to Perugia in the autumn of this year, though, as Mr Matsuura underlined, it “will remain an integral part of UNESCO’s Division of Water Sciences”.

During a bilateral meeting held before the Information Meeting on water, Prince Talal and Mr Matsuura also discussed other subjects in the fields of UNESCO’s competences. They notably exchanged their views on education, sustainable development, conflict prevention and culture.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash info n°099-2006
  • 27-06-2006
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