UNESCO AND SUEZ SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO SAFE WATERParis - Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO of the company SUEZ, will sign a cooperation agreement to improve access to water for all on October 14, at UNESCO Headquarters (5pm).
"At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, governments expanded their commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals by calling to reduce by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2015," says Mr Matsuura. "These objectives reflect the high ethical principles of human dignity and compassion, which are very close to UNESCO's heart. Therefore I am very pleased to see UNESCO and SUEZ join forces through this cooperation agreement."
"This agreement with UNESCO is totally in line with 'Bridging the Water Divide,' the alarm call launched by SUEZ for water for all, one year ago," stressed Mr Mestrallet. "We think that access to safe water can be rapidly improved if we fully take advantage of all available resources and bring them together within public-private partnership contracts involving civil society."
UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme conducts scientific and educational studies to improve water resource management throughout the world. Water is a priority for the Organization's science sector. SUEZ is a global leader providing water services in industrialized nations (87 percent of its turnover) and developing countries.
The agreement outlines several areas of action for which SUEZ will provide about 300,000 euros for the first three years. The first concerns a new UNESCO interdisciplinary initiative to rehabilitate the Volga-Caspian basin. Home to more than 60 million people, the basin's environment is suffering from decades of massive industrialization and urbanization. Forty-two 42 million tons of toxic wastes accumulate in the basin every year, out of which only about 13 percent are neutralized and re-used. SUEZ will contribute financially to the UNESCO initiative and by offering expert advice in improving drinking water quality.
SUEZ will also help to finance activities in the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft (Netherlands), which will be formally launched later this year. It will mark a new chapter in the development of the International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE), which is world-renowned for its training of post-graduate students, especially from developing countries, in all aspects of water management.
The new partnership will also benefit the UNESCO Chair for "Integrated Water Resource Management", based in Casablanca, Morocco. This chair has been extremely active throughout North Africa, working closely with non-governmental organizations, university students and journalists to raise public awareness about water governance. The company has also agreed to set up several bursaries for researchers from developing countries in water-related fields.
Contact: Amy Otchet
Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Telephone: (33) 01 45 68 17 04
Catherine Guillon, SUEZ Press Relations
Telephone: (33) 01 40 06 67 15
Guy Dellicour, SUEZ Press Relations in Belgium
Telephone: (32) 02 507 02 77