UN leader calls for integrated approach to climate and water challenges


The President of the United Nations General Assembly Peter Thomson has emphasised the importance of taking an inclusive and integrated approach to understanding the relationship between climate change and all other environmental issues including fresh water challenges.

Delivering the keynote address in Stockholm to launch World Water Week, Mr Thomson said 'It makes no sense to consider terrestrial environmental issues, fresh water challenges or climate change in isolation as they are all part of the planetary ecosystem, with one affecting the other under the immutable laws of nature. Thus we must always take an inclusive, integrated approach, never falling back into the failing silos of past status quos.”

Water and sanitation are among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by the 193 Members of the UN in September 2015, and which are guiding the work of the development efforts of the international community through 2030.

Combined with the Paris Agreement on lowering the impact of climate change, the SDGs represent “the best chance our species has to achieve a sustainable way of life on Planet Earth before it is too late,” Mr. Thomson said.

He commended World Water Week for bringing together more than 3,000 participants from nearly the entire world. The 2017 edition of the week will address the theme 'Water and waste: reduce and reuse.”

Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today.

In his address, Mr. Thomson noted The Ocean Conference, which, held in New York in June, was meant to raise attention and start working on stopping marine pollution – mainly plastics – ocean acidification, ocean warming, overfishing, damage to biodiversity and ecosystems, and strengthen governance on these issues.

The Conference resulted in a political declaration, partnerships dialogues and nearly 1,400 voluntary commitments to help overcome these issues.

“North and south east and west, the ocean unites us and we have to bring humanity back into a relationship of balance and respect with the water: that great reservoir of H20 which is of course shared by clouds into the rivers and lakes that give us the fresh water that we drink,” Mr. Thomson said.

He said The Ocean Conference gave a boost to a global movement to deliver on SDG14, or the so called Ocean Goal, and similarly, it is time to push for world action on SDG 6, related to water and sanitation.

“SDG6, the water and sanitation Goal, is in need of a major push. The time is right, thus I encourage you all to join together to develop concerted global action to deliver on the targets of [that Goal],” Mr. Thomson said.

Mr Thomson's address is available here.

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