AUSTRALIA-SPAIN WATER FORUM
I Congress of the association of Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific
Sydney, 29-31 October 2015
SIMS (Sydney Institute of Marine Science), Chowder Bay
The United Nations General Assembly, in December 2003, proclaimed the years 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’. Its primary goal was to promote efforts to fulfil international commitments made on water and water–related issues in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
This year is the last of the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015. The purpose of this seminar is to address the crucial importance of water at present, from the point of view of health as well as energy, social and cultural development. Spain and Australia share a high concern for water resources, water treatment and water management, the marine environment and the economic and social implications involved.
The world is waking up to the water and sanitation crisis. At the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration; from the Declaration emerged the Millennium Development Goals, an integrated set of time-bound targets for extending the benefits of globalization to the world's poorest citizens. Target 10 in goal 7, aims at cutting in half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. At the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development, in 2002, this target was expanded to include basic sanitation, and water as a resource was recognized as a critical factor for meeting all the Goals. This sanitation objective is now an integral part of target 10.
Since Johannesburg, further international deliberations on water and sanitation have helped advance cooperation and action in this area. Significant progress has been made since then in providing people with access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. But a major effort is still required to extend these essential services to those still unserved, the vast majority of whom are poor people.
Given the magnitude of the task, in December 2003, the United Nations General Assembly, in resolution A/RES/58/217, proclaimed the period 2005-2015 International Decade for Action 'Water for Life'. The decade officially started on World Water Day, March 22, 2005.
The Water Decade Office was created with the aim of sponsoring from Zaragoza the comprehensive management of water resources, especially the drinking water supply and sanitation, and to be the focal point of the Organization in a matter that affects 19 of its agencies (FAO, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, etc.) and 5 regional commissions.
The implementation of the actions identified in the program of the Water Decade will be held in five phases, of two years each, and for which specific guidelines have been established with independent objectives. Thus, the priority objectives for this first biennium 2006-2007, in which the opening of the Headquarters Office in Zaragoza is included, are institutional development, worldwide communication and impact, the increase of technical and institutional capacity as well as boosting research work and socioeconomic policies.
The coordination of the overall project will take place at the Office of the Water Decade which will interact closely with other international meetings on water such as the Commission on Sustainable Development, UN-Water division or water initiative of the European Union. These interactions are aimed at raising awareness to all countries on whether to adopt sustainable policies on the exploitation of water resources, and to develop plans for integrated management and efficient use.
© SRAP-IEAP 2015