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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

The Director-General attends the 9th World Summit of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

The Director-General attends the 9th World Summit of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 11 December 2008, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened a session on the right to water during the 9th World Summit of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, held at the Paris Hotel de Ville with Professor Pachauri, co-recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace prize as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Mr Matsuura began his intervention by highlighting that many of the human rights affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights could not be fulfilled without access to water. He noted for example, “that without access to proper water supplies, children are forced to walk long distances, often several times a day, to provide water for their families, thus missing school and undermining the fundamental right to education.”

The Director-General underscored that the right to water entitled access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water enjoyed without discrimination, and equally by women and men. He underlined however, that even though “the right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy and dignified life, in this twenty-first century, access to water is denied to millions in developing as well as developed countries. While progress has been made towards expanding access to safe drinking water, some 884 million people – around 13 percent of the world's population – are denied this basic right.”

Mr Matsuura went on to highlight that “today, around 2.5 billion people – nearly 40 percent of the world's population, a shocking figure – still lack access to safe sanitation. Of these, 1.2 billion have no access to sanitation facilities at all.” He noted that “with 80 per cent of diseases either water born or water related, it is imperative that action be taken urgently to address this drastic situation.”

The Director-General underscored that many aspects of water resources management needed to change. “The international community has to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing integrated water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies.”

He concluded his intervention by highlighting the importance of raising global awareness of the need to use water more efficiently and called on governments to engage in their duty to ensure equitable access to water, especially among the most marginalized and vulnerable sections of society. “Securing the right to water is our shared responsibility. We will need the goodwill and energy of all to succeed.”

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 179-2008
  • 16-12-2008
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