AOSIS technical needs to address water and climate at CSD12

2004-04-14 H.E Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

Mr Chairman,
Distinguished delegates,
I have the pleasure of take the floor on behalf of the members of the
Alliance of Small Island States, but first may I associate the members of AOSIS with the
statement of the Group of 77 and China.
The need for improved capacity to manage water resources in a
sustainable manner is recognised as being of fundamental importance to sustainable
economic growth and improvement in public health, living conditions and the
environment in SIDS. Water resources and sanitation are inextricably linked because
wastewater disposal often has a direct impact on the quality of freshwater resources:
particularly for low-lying islands and coastal areas. The economic and public health
implications of degraded and depleted water supplies and poor sanitation are farreaching. Poor health leads to reduced individual productivity and lost development
opportunities. There is almost always a disproportionate health impact on the poor,
especially on women who bear much of the additional burden of water collection. These
issues represent particular challenges in SIDS, in particular the very smallest of the
islands that have to rely on rainwater harvesting.
Problems associated with providing adequate water supply and sanitation
are common to all SIDSs. The lack of trained staff, basic data and information,
infrastructure and legislation to deal with these problems is recorded as being a
significant constraint to sustainable development. Concern about the potential impacts of
global warming, climatic variability and sea-level rise highlights the need for water
resource monitoring in SIDS. The lack of adequate legislation, education and awareness
leaves resources unprotected and exposes the community to the risk of water shortages
and contamination.
Statistical data on the availability of water and sanitation, and on the
associated social and economic factors, are limited; in the same way that data and
information on water quantity and quality are difficult to obtain.
Poverty in many SIDS is escalating, problems associated with rapidly
growing urban areas, particularly in squatter settlements and on islands with limited land
area. Achieving progress in both the water and sanitation areas will contribute a great
deal towards our efforts to achieve the MDGs.
A serious increase in the incidence of health problems resulting from
inadequate water supply and sanitation is reported in these situations and the reported
incidence of contagious illness indicates that conditions for urban dwellers are
deteriorating. Inadequate or non-existent sanitation is also having a serious impact on the
environment. The problems of maintaining existing urban and rural water supply systems
have led to failures or high levels of wastage, 50% is common in urban water supply
systems. These losses of fresh water are often perceived as evidence of a lack of
sufficient capacity and result in scarce funds being committed to the extension and
upgrading of water supply systems that could be used with a higher benefit in other
Development projects offered to SIDS as solutions often fail due to the lack of expertise
at the local level in dealing with complex technical issues resulting in the use of solutions
from consultants or donor countries that do not fit into their strategic planning. This is
often exacerbated by a lack of understanding of local conditions by the consultants.
The need to ensure that adequate regional human resource levels are maintained
so as to be able to ensure that technical assistance, training support and, information and
technical data is available. In particular the following technical areas are highlighted by
AOSIS Members as requiring action:

• Water resource management: including assessment, development and
management (including protection) of rainwater harvesting, surface water catchments
where they exist (streams, rivers and lakes), groundwater systems (freshwater lenses,
volcanic and fluvial terrains) and non-conventional sources (eg desalination), water
quality and resource vulnerability, rural community participation, appropriate
technologies and drought preparedness.
• Water demand management: including system efficiency and conservation
through asset inventories, leakage assessment, detection and repair, hydraulic modelling
and system improvement, water treatment and water quality monitoring, operation and
maintenance issues, drought storage assessments, metering, tariff studies and public
conservation awareness programmes.
• On-site sanitation facilities: including appropriate sanitation technologies (eg. dry
systems, water flush, composting toilets, eco-treatment processes), community level
participatory surveys, environmental pollution, public awareness campaigns, sustainable
village level operation and maintenance.
• Off-site sanitation systems: including urban sewerage collection systems,
treatment process works, storm overflows, sea outfalls and river disposal, deep
wastewater injection systems, wastewater quality and environmental monitoring, network
modelling and catchment management.
• Hygiene assessment and promotion: including community participation surveys,
socio-cultural assessments, water source protection, water storage and purification
practices, washing and cleaning practices, use and maintenance of sanitation systems.
The water sector also suffers from a number of constraints that contribute to the inability
of achieving sustainable management of water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The
constraints can broadly be divided into three groups: institutional capacity of national
agencies; governmental support; and public support.
• Insufficient institutional capacity: lack of data and information systems;
insufficient or inoperative equipment; poor maintenance of equipment; limited technical
expertise; weak institutional bodies; often demoralised and unmotivated staff; insufficient
training opportunities; poor staff retention; lack of finances.
• Insufficient government support: lack of political will but often too much
unwanted political interference; legislation inappropriate or absent; lack of regulation and
no capacity for enforcement; often no coherent national policies on integrated water
resource management; fragmented multiple government agency involvement resulting in
poor regulatory or policy links between the various sectors; often inadequate share of the
National annual budget and conflict between public service and sustainable utility.
• Insufficient public support: inadequate public awareness; insufficient community
participation and involvement; and associated lack of appreciation of socio-cultural
The critical global importance of water is expressed in the MDG 7, the
JPoI, and this and the next session of the CSD theme of “Water, Sanitation and Human
Settlements”. In regard to the particular vulnerability and needs of SIDS, these were most
recently acknowledged by the global community at the 3rd World Water Forum, Kyoto,
16-23 March 2003.
An outcome from the 3rd World Water Forum was the Joint Caribbean Pacific Joint Programme for Action on Water and Climate (JPfA). The JpfA comprises 22 action elements, common to both the Caribbean and Pacific regions, identified through individual regional consultations. In the Pacific, Water and Climate issues were
addressed through an holistic consultation on sustainable water management. In the
Caribbean, Water & Climate was considered within a regional framework of crosssectoral climate adaptation. Common action responses identified within both regional consultations were assimilated into this joint programme.

The objective of the JPfA is to develop and enhance inter-SIDS
South-South collaboration, using the JPfA to improve and facilitate knowledge transfer,
wise practice promotion, training and advocacy in water and climate management. The
JPfA is structured into four areas: research, awareness, capacity building and governance.
Immediate priority actions were identified as: water resources assessment, water
governance, integrated water resources management, water demand management and
water quality.
Chair, SIDS are pleased to bring to this CSD the Joint Programme for
Action as an expression of what SIDS are doing amongst themselves to address these
aspects of sustainable development. The JPfA is comprehensive but to date we have had
limited success in attracting partners to support us in implementation in the Pacific and
the Caribbean and ultimately by extension to others SIDS.
We look forward to receiving through this CSD, commitments from our
development partners.

Sub Topic: Cross-cutting

Forum: Conference on Sustainable Development (CSD)

Meeting: CSD12