Ambassador Sirodjidin Aslov is Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the United Nations. In the most recent issue of UN Chronicle, Mr Aslov wrote about the Tajik vision for the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013.
Mankind is currently faced with several global challenges including poverty, hunger and climate change. Meanwhile, the fast pace of urbanization and population growth accelerates any global processes, impacting water resources. As a result, the issues of water scarcity and the deterioration of water quality are becoming increasingly urgent. In the modern world, water has become the key element for addressing food security, energy security and environmental sustainability. Given the above, the world cannot achieve today’s global development goals without establishing global water governance.
Water governance is defined by the political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place, and which directly or indirectly affect the use, development and management of water resources and the delivery of water service at different levels of society. Since the water sector is a part of broader social, political and economic developments, and is thus affected by decisions made outside of the water sector, the achievement of effective water governance demands a broad approach; this essentially means coordination with other forms of governance, as well as with formal and informal structures, procedures and processes.
All of the above underscore the need for cooperation and the establishment of a dialogue among all water users, especially those in the agriculture, industry, energy, navigation and water supply and sanitation fields. Potential transboundary issues and conflicting interests can best be addressed through cooperation, adequate legal and institutional framework, joint approaches to planning and sharing of benefits and related costs. First of all, it is necessary to increase official development assistance for the development and implementation of projects geared towards providing vulnerable and poor people with safe drinking water and water for daily needs. A reliable database, including meteorological, hydrological and socioeconomic data, plays a key role in the sustainable management of water resources.
The Republic of Tajikistan has initiated several United Nations General Assembly resolutions, including the International Year of Freshwater 2003 and the International Decade for Action "Water for Life" 2005–2015. In 2010, Tajikistan proposed a General Assembly resolution that would facilitate the coordination and collaboration in addressing emerging freshwater issues, and would unite efforts undertaken by governments, international and regional organizations, business communities, scientists and other representatives of civil society. In October 2010 my delegation proposed the General Assembly resolution on International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC) 2013, which was adopted by consensus in December 2010.
IYWC aims at unifying all efforts undertaken and planned by the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, governments, civil society and entrepreneurs, in order to increase awareness of freshwater-related problems and ways to resolve them, creating a favourable environment for generating new ideas and searching for the most efficient ways to address the internationally agreed development goals regarding freshwater resources.
Though the resolution did not define any specific goals, the following could be envisaged as specific IYWC goals:
- reaching a more profound understanding of the inter-relationship between sustainable development and management of freshwater resources;
- encouraging governments to develop strategies and programmes to promote efficient cooperation in the sustainable management of water resources with the involvement of all water users;
- mobilizing civil society to be involved constructively in dealing with issues pertaining to the sustainable management of freshwater resources;
- increasing investments and voluntary contributions for activities targeted at providing the needy population with access to fresh water, developing sanitation facilities, transferring advanced resource saving technologies, strengthening national and regional water management potential, and preserving water ecosystems;
- developing international communication and information networks for the dissemination of knowledge and experience in successful policies, new and innovative practices and measures at the local, national and regional levels.
We expect that IYWC will give impetus to efforts and activities worldwide and contribute to addressing current and emerging water-related challenges, as well as lead to discussions on the post-2015 development agenda related to water, including the ongoing intergovernmental deliberations on sustainable development goals on water and sanitation.
For the successful implementation of IYWC, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United Nations initiated a resolution entitled Implementation of the International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013. The General Assembly resolution was co-sponsored by 48 countries and adopted on 21 December 2012 by consensus. The resolution envisages the following events in 2013 to support the implementation of IYWC:
- World Water Day, a High-level Interactive Dialogue of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly, will be convened in New York on 22 March 2013 to mark the International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013, and the twentieth anniversary of its proclamation;
- the official World Water Day event dedicated to water cooperation, the theme of the International Year, will be held on 22 March 2013 in The Hague, Netherlands;
- a High-level International Conference on water cooperation will be held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in late August 2013.
Preparations for the above-mentioned international events will be coordinated in a manner that provided logical connection and continuity among all related IYWC activities. In this regard, we are closely cooperating on water and sanitation issues with all United Nations agencies and other international organizations, as well as with Member States. In addition, at the initiative of Tajikistan, the Water Friends Group was established in 2009 at United Nations Headquarters.
We will call on all our national, regional and international partners to hold relevant events, including various seminars and meetings, to achieve IYWC goals. We are confident that governments will take an active part in the High-level Interactive Dialogue in New York, and the High-level International Conference on Water Cooperation in Dushanbe, with the focus on water issues and challenges that can be addressed through the development of cooperation at all levels.
As mentioned earlier, we are trying to provide coherence between events that have been envisaged by the resolution on the implementation of IYWC. We believe that the deliberations of the High-level Dialogue on World Water Day will be continued during the High-level International Conference in Dushanbe in August 2013 on a wider level and deeper scope. During the Dushanbe Conference, there will be exhibitions, including posters, books, audio and video materials dedicated to water cooperation that will highlight water issues and challenges faced by all nations and their populations. Since water cooperation is a comprehensive issue, we believe that preparation for these conferences should involve international and regional organizations engaged in addressing and finding solutions to water issues, as well as all stakeholders, including businesses, non-governmental organizations, women’s and children’s organizations and local authorities. The Government of Tajikistan has already established an Organizing Committee of High-level International Conference on Water Cooperation, chaired by His Excellency Mr. Oqil Oqilov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan.
We encourage the participants of the Dushanbe Conference, in addition to sharing their experiences and ideas, to formulate their specific proposals and suggestions on ways to move forward in the solution to water issues and in addressing water challenges. Moreover, we expect that during the preparation period, the Organizing Committee of the Dushanbe Conference will be collaborating with the organizers of other regional and international events on water cooperation.
Tajikistan believes that today’s freshwater problems are not the result of a lack of international agreements, decisions and recommendations. Many more effective and concerted measures, together with a stronger political will, are required at all levels to implement those decisions and action programmes. To effectively address the freshwater issues and problems, the international community should take coordinated, purposeful and long-term actions that will unite the efforts undertaken by governments, international and regional organizations, business communities, scientists and representatives of civil society.
In order to achieve further progress, it is essential to:
- mobilize stronger political commitment and actions towards the implementation of international agreements;
- undertake more far-reaching public awareness campaigns, as well as education regarding effective water cooperation and dialogue;
- promote the exchange of experiences in successful policies and best practices at the local, national, regional and international levels;
- strengthen partnerships and cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as among communities, local authorities and governments;
- enhance international and regional cooperation.