AOSIS technical needs to address water and climate at CSD122004-04-14 H.E Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul
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 sectors. 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 issues. 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)