News.Sep 22, 2016

World leaders Call for Action on Water

The High Level Panel on Water, consisting of 11 sitting Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser, have issued a Call to Action for a fundamental shift in the way the world looks at water. Panel representatives recently met at World Water Week in Stockholm to engage in dialogue with the wider water community.

The High Level Panel on Water was launched earlier this year at World Economic Forum by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. It is supported by several expert organizations, among them Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

The Panel aims to mobilize effective action and advocate on financing and implementation to increase access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for all, and to improve the sustainable management of water and sanitation (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6)), as well as to contribute to the achievement of the other SDGs that rely on the development and management of water resources.

In a joint statement launching the Call for Action on 21 September, during the UN general Assembly in New York, Ban Ki-moon and Jim Yong Kim recognized both the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the need for all to take responsibility for managing water better. The need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to water, as well as increased attention and investment in water-related services, are at the heart of the Call.

An Action Plan, presented by the Panel, outlines new initiatives and investments that can put the world on the path to meet the SDG6 and related targets. The Panel Members committed to lead the way and encouraged other Heads of State and Government to do the same.

“The consequences of water shortage are costly today, but will be exponentially more expensive in the future,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Economic growth in some regions could be cut by as much as 6 percent because of water scarcity alone. The High Level Panel on Water is critically important because the world needs leadership at the highest political level to usher in policies that support a more sustainable use of water.”

During a recent meeting at World Water Week in Stockholm, the designated representatives, or so-called Sherpas, of the Panel met to prepare the launch of the Call for Action and Action Plan, and to listen to key actors in the global water community gathered in Stockholm.

“It was immensely important that the representatives of the Panel, which drives engagement in water issues to the highest government level, also gather at World Water Week in Stockholm to receive input from the wider water community. Working with non-state actors – civil society, business, mayors and local leaders will be essential to achieving the Water Goal and the entire Agenda 2030,” said SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren.

World Water Week, held 28 August-2 September this year, provides an annual opportunity to take stock of water in the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement, inviting a wide range of stakeholders to track water’s progress in global development processes.

Currently, more than two billion people are affected by water stress, a figure that is expected to rise in coming decades due to growing demands on water supplies and the increasing effects of climate change.

While 6.6 billion or 91 percent of the world’s people used an improved drinking water source in 2015—up from 82 percent in 2000—an estimated 663 million people were still using unimproved sources or surface water. Moreover, not all improved sources are safe. For instance, in 2012 an estimated 1.8 billion people were exposed to drinking water sources contaminated with fecal matter. As of 2015, 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation—with 946 million people still practicing open defecation.

The Panel members, who serve for two years, are:

H.E. Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius (Co-Chair)

H.E. Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico (Co-Chair)

H.E. Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

H.E. Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh

H.E. Mr. János Áder, President of Hungary

H.E. Mr. Hani Mulki, Prime Minister Jordan

H.E. Mr. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of The Netherlands

H.E. Mr. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard, President of Peru

H.E. Mr. Macky Sall, President of Senegal

  1. E. Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
  2. E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan

Special Adviser

H.E. Dr. Han Seung-soo, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea


Gallery of photos from the World Water Week event, click below for high-res photos.

Call-for-action-thumbnail-3 Call-for-action-thumbnail-2  Call-for-action-thumbnail-1