Director-General Attends 6th Meeting of UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation

The Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, today attended the 6th meeting of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, which is taking place in Paris at the Avenue Kleber building that was the first home of UNESCO. The meeting will end on 11 July.

Mr Matsuura began his remarks by paying tribute to the late Chairman of the Board, Mr Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan. Recalling that he and Mr Hashimoto had been friends for some 30 years, Mr Matsuura said of him that he “was an inspiring leader and a great reformer in Japanese politics. He was also strongly engaged throughout his career in global issues, and especially in issues of sustainable development and freshwater management”.

The Director-General went on to give the Board members a brief overview of the history and role of UNESCO in the area of freshwater, notably, about the four pillars of the Organizations work. These are the intergovernmental International Hydrological Programme (IHP); the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education located in Delft, The Netherlands; the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme, whose Secretariat is hosted by UNESCO; and the rapidly expanding network of water centres operating under the auspices of UNESCO. With regard to the fourth pillar, he made particular reference to the International Centre for Water hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) in Tsukuba, Japan, and to the International Research and Training Centre on Erosion and Sedimentation (IRTCES) in Beijing, China, thus underlining the importance the Organization gives to disaster preparedness and mitigation.

Mr Matsuura concluded his remarks by highlighting areas of possible collaboration between the Advisory Board and UNESCO. In particular he urged the Board to draw on the expertise and services available at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, and to draw more heavily on the UN World Water Assessment Programme, especially with regard to monitoring the world water situation. “This is important not only with regard to monitoring progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but also in relation to other water-related development challenges, such as floods. The WWAP functions in addition as an early warning facility, identifying areas of potential water-related conflicts, and then working to resolve or defuse them. This it achieves through the PCCP initiative – From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential” he said. He also suggested that the Board and UNESCO explore how the IHP National Committees could provide scientific backstopping to its work, in the same manner as it does for the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW).

In the short question/answer session that followed, the members of the Board asked various questions, including on what actions the Director-General thought the Board should request from UNESCO in the area of water and disaster preparedness/mitigation; capacity-building and the role of UNESCO-IHE in this regard; UNESCO’s water education project in Latin America and the Caribbean; and how trade unions could work more systematically with UNESCO and the United Nations. On the latter, the question was raised as to why the International Labour Organization is not a member of the World Water Assessment Programme. The Director-General informed the Board that every effort would be made to ensure that the ILO is brought into the World Water Assessment Programme and fully engaged in the production of the 3rd World Water Development Report, the preparation of which will begin in August this year.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info n°113-2006
  • 11-07-2006
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