World Water Day – Switzerland calls for a comprehensive water goal in the post-2015 agenda

Article, 21.03.2014

World Water Day is on 22 March. The conservation of global water resources is a priority for Switzerland. Numerous global issues and challenges are connected with water security – for example, food security, energy production, environmental protection and the health of the world population. Switzerland is calling for a comprehensive water goal to be set on the agenda of the post-2015 development and sustainability objectives with a strategy consisting of four key areas of action.

World Water Day highlights the need to protect global water resources.

Drinking water is a common property resource that is essential to life and should be protected. A global crisis will threaten if water resources continue to be overexploited, wasted and polluted. To ensure the situation does not reach this point, water productivity must be increased, equal access to water established for everyone and the environment protected. World Water Day highlights the need to protect global water resources.

Swiss water goal with four key areas of action
Switzerland has undertaken intensive, international efforts aimed at achieving improvements in the field of water for many years in cooperation with its partners, especially UN Water. It is calling for a comprehensive water goal in the post-2015 development agenda consisting of four key areas of action with respective sub-objectives:

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene
    Objective: global access to clean drinking water and sanitation as well as improved hygiene
  • Water resource management
    Objective: sustainable management of water resources and increased water productivity while also ensuring environmental protection
  • Wastewater management
    Objective: better management and usage of wastewater in order to protect water resources and the ecosystem
  • Management of hydrological disasters
    Objective: reduction of vulnerability to hydrological disasters focusing on the needs of poor population groups

Universal problem – country-specific requirements
The issue of water is a global problem and concerns the social, economic and ecological aspects of development cooperation. Every country nevertheless has specific needs in relation to water and requires different priorities in terms of development cooperation. Whereas a lack of access to clean drinking water and deficient hygiene standards tend to affect poor countries and regions more, excessive water consumption and wastewater disposal are prevalent issues in countries with high per-capita income.

Water security – a global challenge
Access to clean water and sanitary facilities are human rights as stipulated by the UN in 2010 in resolution 64/292. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF nevertheless indicate that around 800 million people have inadequate access to clean water. Even more people drink or use water that endangers their health. 2.5 billion people live with inadequate sanitary facilities and over one billion have no access to a toilet.

Even more water will be required in future for irrigation, energy production and the populations of the growing cities while at the same time the quantity of wastewater will increase. These challenges are heightened by the fact that over 260 major rivers and lakes have cross-border basins. Only cooperation based on partnership can help to prevent future conflicts.