Deep dive: Climate Change and Water, Side-event of HLPF

The HLPF side-event entitled “Deep dive: Climate Change and Water,” was convened to discuss the linkage between this critically important resource and prevailing trends of climate change. Moderated by Ms. Kali Taylor from the SDG Lab, an informative panel discussion was followed by interactive dialogue with its participants.

Outlining her organization’s brief “On Policy and Water,” Ms. Algayerova from UN Water summarized not only how climate change impacts to water resources threaten sustainable maintenance of sanitation, health, and eco-systems, but how current methods to satisfy increasing water demand can further exacerbate climate change. Ms. Ingrid Timboe, a contributor to the report, further expounded its solution recommendations, including appropriate accountability for water availability, adoption of risk-based water strategies, development of climate-resilient infrastructure, and the reduction of exposure to water-related risks. Finally, the website and database corresponding to the report was introduced.

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Initial Briefing on United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA)

Today, Mr. Harris began the meeting by introducing its agenda, which entailed briefing member states on the upcoming Second Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2), which will be held at the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from May 23, 2016 to May 27, 2016.  He mentioned that the theme of the forum will be discussing ways to deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the event will center on calling ministers from UN member states to form resolutions that address critical global environmental challenges.  He stated that the event will also involve inter-governmental and non-governmental actors to add to the discussions on addressing critical issues related to air quality, healthy ecosystems, chemicals, wastes, etc.

Mr. Harris also mentioned that numerous side events, as well as, a “Science and Policy Forum,” which aims to bring people from the science and policy communities to strengthen dialogue and collaboration on achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), would lead up to the UNEA-2.  Lastly, he stated that a debriefing would be held on June 8, 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to share with member states all the resolutions and developments from the UNEA-2 and other side events and meetings.  Mr. Ahmad added that countries that do not have accredited permanent representatives in Nairobi, Kenya could send delegates who can contribute to the discussions of the CPR to UNEP.

Meeting: A Briefing by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to Member States on the Second Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2)

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, May 3, 2016; 10:00 – 12:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Mr. Elliot Harris, Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and Head of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) New York Office (NYO); Mr. Jamil Ahmad, Secretary for the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment (GC/GMEF) and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

 

“No Waste Water, Only Wasted Water”

   A new report, “The UNSGAB Journey”, on water and sanitation was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) at today’s press conference. The advisory board was founded in 2004 by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan “to bring together eminent people to advise on how to solve the planet’s foremost water and sanitation troubles, suggest a handful of attainable recommendations and a concise plan of action, and then provide the high-level leadership needed to galvanize the international community into action on the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for drinking water and sanitation.” The group’s 11-year mandate has come to an end and this is the final work to be put out by the group.

   The report shines light on 7 tipping points to transform the water world:

  1. Build attention to water and sanitation: create the will to act now
  2. Drinking Water: More. Managed. Monitored. Made safe.
  3. Bring sanitation into the mainstream
  4. Push for increased and improved financial flows
  5. Catalyze better water resources management. IWRM and Nexus: within and between countries, across sectors
  6. Demand UN attention to pollution prevention, wastewater treatment and safe reuse
  7. Promote protection and prevent death and damage from water-related disasters

   The report also includes words of wisdom for future advisory groups and discusses unfinished business and tasks for the future.

   The advisory group worked by identifying personalities and institutions that had high leverage and would be able to bring political attention to sanitation and UNSGAB was successful in putting wastewater management on the UN agenda. The speakers left the audience with the mantra “there is no waste water, but only wasted water.”

Meeting: Launch of a New Report by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB)

Speakers: Ms. Uschi Eid, United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB); and UNSGAB Members: Ms. Maggie Catley-Carlson; Ms. Maria Mutagamba; and Mr. Gerard Payen.

Written By: WIT Representative Tania Makker

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo credit: https://sourceable.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/water-recycling.jpg

Water on Fire: Sustaining and Sharing What’s Left

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The meeting convened with the chair, Ms. Uwizera, observing that ⅕ of the world lives in absolute water scarcity today.

Ms. Bartoleme, filling in for Mr. Gass, noted that the expanding overall demand for water in the next decades will affect social and economic conditions in all countries, especially increasing the chance of conflict in water-scarce countries. The world needs a paradigm shift in how we manage water. We must move away from current crisis management methods to more preventive measures.

Mr. Garrote agreed that water crisis is a definite policy priority, among the top 3 risks for global impact for the past three years. Sustainable water use has economic, environmental, and social dimensions. Integrated water resources management requires focusing on our instruments, infrastructure, water sharing, financing, and governance. We need to proactively move from supply to demand management, and from crisis to risk management. We need to understand the social challenges needed to effectively combat drought. Also of utmost importance is investing in capacity building and sharing knowledge and information among all countries.

Ms. Mucavi said that the issue of water cuts across all of the Sustainable Development Goals. By 2025 ⅔ of the global population could be living in water stressed conditions.

Ms. Maestu stated that water equality among the world’s population is important when considering water scarcity.

Mr. Khairy noted that though Egypt possesses a water efficiency rate of 75%, one of the highest in the world, there is still a net deficit of 20 billion cubic meters of water per year, the majority of which goes to the agricultural sector.

Mr. Dolcemascolo had four priorities for action: understanding risk, strengthening governance for risk reduction, investing in resilience, and strengthening preparedness for effective response. Regional cooperation is paramount.

Meeting: Panel Discussion on “Challenges and initiatives for the implementation of the water-related sustainable development goals in water-scarce countries: learning from Mediterranean and Latin American countries”

Date/Location: 11/6/15, 10:00 – 13:00, Conference Room 2

Speakers: Ms. Chantal Uwizera (Rwanda), Rapporteur of the Second Committee; Representative filling in for Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs; His Excellency Sherif Eissa, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Nile Basin Affairs, Egypt; Mr. Luis Garrote, Professor, Polytechnic University of Madrid; Ms. Carla Mucavi, Director, Food and Agricultural Organization Liaison Office with the United Nations, New York; Ms. Josefina Maestu, Director, United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015; Mr. Wael Khairy, Deputy President of Nile Water Sector, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Egypt; Mr. Ney Maranhão, Director, National Water Agency, Brazil; Mr. Dunixi Gabiña, Deputy Director, IAMZ-CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza; Mr. John Qu, Director, Global Environment and Natural Resources Institute, George Mason University; Mr. Melchiade Bukuru, Chief, Liaison Office of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, New York; Mr. Jamal Shah, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist on Emergencies, United Nations Children’s Fund; Mr. Glenn Dolcemascolo, Climate Change Coordinator, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Written By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: JB in Pacifica

Informal Meetings of the Plenary on Stocktaking in the Process of Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

mww_thumb_post-2015This meeting started with several countries relating their sentiments regarding the post-2015 development agenda. China, Chad, the Russian Federation, and Ecuador all gave similar statements about desiring more transparency, stronger follow-up, and resolutions to implementation issues. Following this, the floor was opened up to major groups and stakeholders. The representative of Freshwater Action Mexico said that though the MDG indicator for clean water had been achieved, “the water did not reach the people.” A representative of indigenous people called for segregated data, land resources, special measures, access to justice, participation, and representation to end marginalization.

The representative of “Regional CSO Engage Mechanism: Asia” called for better integration of SDGs in technology facilitation and capacity building. The representative of the Voice Beyond 2015 stated that no MDG has been achieved until it has been met for all socioeconomic groups, especially the marginalized. The UCLG called for rural and local inclusion and involvement, as outlined at the Rio+20 Conference and by the Secretary-General recently. Helpage International wanted to see data desegregation by age, gender, income, and disability status. Education International wanted to clarify the confusion between decent jobs versus decent work through job creation, workers rights, social protection, and dialogue. The VSO representative discussed that providing grassroots community leaders with access to info, meaningful participation in decision-making, education, training, grassroots infrastructure, healthcare, and other social services would greatly aid in their development. The Arab Network for Environment and Development called for an understanding of extremist ideologies that plague the Middle East as calls to end all forms of occupation. Finally, the Pacific Youth Council mentioned both the unique challenges facing SIDS as well as the idea that Caribbean youth want to become involved in the eradication of gender-based violence, want a spiritual approach when promoting a cultural identity, and desire social inclusion through sports.

Meeting: Informal meetings of the plenary on stocktaking in the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, pursuant to resolution 69/244 and decision 69/550
Date & Location: Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Representatives of Chad, the Russian Federation, China, Ecuador, the Philippines, Austria, and the following major groups and stakeholders: Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Human Rights Caucus, MexFam, World Farmers Organization, International Disability Alliance, Youth Beyond Disasters, International Council of Science, ATD Fourth World, Regional CSO Engagement, Freshwater Act Mexico, Regional CSO Engage Mechanism: Asia, Voice Beyond 2015 Campaign, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Helpage International, Education International (Workers and Trade Unions Major Group), VSO, Arab Network for Environment and Development, and the Pacific Youth Council
Written By WIT Representatives: Alis Yoo and Brian Lee
Edited By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: Tools for their Realization and Remedies for Violations

imagesAn event was held concerning water and sanitation as human rights as well as the opportunities and challenges facing the extension of these rights to the global population. The representative of Germany began by noting that while support for these issues as human rights has increased, climate change and other factors could impede future access to sustainable water sources. Billions of people today live without reliable water and/or proper sanitation facilities. Germany believes that those in need should be included in creating policy for ensuring future access. Current SDG outlines call for universal access by 2030.

Ms. de Albuquerque explained that many states have not had the ability to turn political will into practice regarding protection of these rights. To change this, she created a handbook that provides guidance to states that need it. The handbook is separated into nine issues fundamental to the realization of water and sanitation rights. Mr. Alston hailed the handbook for its ability to “operationalize the wisdom that has been learned” during the rapporteur’s mandate. Further, the consensus created around water and sanitation as human rights is important because it connects them with internationally binding standards and obligations, thus transforming how the issues are approached. People, especially women, must now become empowered to demand their rights, and civil society must pressure governments to adhere to rights standards. UNICEF’s representative stressed the necessity of compiling information in the form of data that allows the international community to monitor the progress of states’ advancement of water and sanitation rights.

            The Spanish representative concluded by applauding the conceptual combination of water and sanitation, which has helped increase global awareness of sanitation issues. He also called on the international community to ensure the inclusion of meaningful water and sanitation goals in the post-2015 development agenda.

Meeting: The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: Tools for their Realization and Remedies for Violations.”
Date:
22 October 2014
Location: Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, UN HQ, New York.
Speakers: Catarina de Albuquerque, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation; Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights; Representative of the Permanent Mission of Germany; Representative of the Permanent Mission of Spain; Representative of UNICEF; Representative of OHCHR.                      
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability

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Today an event was held which highlighted how environmental sustainability is an integral part in humanitarian aid effectiveness. The panelists in this meeting discussed the findings from a report entitled “Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability.”

The first speaker, Ms. Gebremedhin, the Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland, began by addressing various environmental issues that need to be taken into account during humanitarian action, in order for it to reach its full potential. For example, management of solid wastes and hazardous materials and safeguarding natural resources are essential, and the reduction of deforestation, desertification, and pollution is necessary for sustained livelihoods in the aftermath of a disaster. Furthermore, efficient leadership and accountability are needed in humanitarian situations, and addressing environmental concerns is a shared responsibility between donors and humanitarian organisations.

Following, Mr. Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva, stated the effectiveness of humanitarian aid is dependent on environmental conditions. He cited floods and draughts as main environmental threats that can complicate an already existing humanitarian crisis, like a famine or armed conflict.

Ms. Anita van Breda from WWF USA spoke about combining climate change adaptation strategies with disaster risk reduction. She highlighted the Green Recovery Program – a partnership between WWF and the American Red Cross –, which works to sustain livelihoods, provide adequate water, sanitation, and shelter, and deals with disaster management. Her three key recommendations to take the environment into consideration when taking humanitarian action included: updating academic training and professional development, learning to manage change and developing new ways of learning, and ensuring that staff and volunteers have the necessary discipline, skills, and aptitude.

Concluding the meeting Ms. Costa, the Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission spoke about the threat faced by women and girls when they have to leave their refugee camps to collect firewood for cooking and heating. Many have to travel 5 or 6 hours a day to collect enough wood to cook just one meal, and on the journey are raped, beaten, or killed. Ms. Costa emphasised the importance of shifting communities away from dependence on wood fuel and towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options in order to decrease the threat of this gender based violence and to reduce deforestation and resource overconsumption.

Meeting Title: Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability
Speakers: Ms. Anna Gebremedhin, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland; Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Geneva; MS. Anita van Breda, Director of Humanitarian Partnerships, WWF USA; Ms. Sarah Costa, Executive Director of Women’s Refugee Commission
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Starvation: Assad’s battering ram against the Syrians

“Kneel or Starve”

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The Danish Ambassador to the UN hosted a panel to reiterate Denmark’s determination to end starvation as a weapon of war in Syria.

Mr. Zakarya started with a personal account of the life in the besieged and chemically attacked city of Moadamiya. Victims of the regime’s “Kneel or Starve” strategy, the people of Moadamiya survived on a diet of sugar and rice before resorting to foraging edible plants. He added that the Assad regime actively blocked delivery of aid, and individuals who sought medical treatment are shot when returned to the city. Speaking of the disheartening story of a grocer’s daughter starved to death, he said that the strategy deprives Syrians not only of food, but also hope.

Mr. Sammond illustrated the severity of starvation in Syria by pointing to the fact that more Syrians died of starvation than that of illness and attack. Referring to Amnesty International’s report on the Yarmouk refugee camp, he pointed out that there is only half an hour of water supply per day. The lack of supplies is also illustrated by the fact that hospitals are lit by candles and even cigarette lighter, and caesarian sections are performed with little or no anesthetia.

Mr. Al-Dimashqy illustrated the shortage of food by stating that price of food increased by tenfold. Mr. Bitari provided a voice of Palestinians in Syria, and urged the international community to intervene the situation in Yarmouk camp.

Echoing the call for intervention, Dr. Ghadbian joined from the floor by stating that the problem with the starvation strategy is the lack of enforcement of Security Council Resolution 2139, which demanded parties to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance. Saudi Ambassador Al-Mouallimi passionately expressed his regret that some countries prevented the passing of a resolution for bringing those who caused this atrocity to justice.

 

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Life under siege: Starvation as a weapon of war”
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations; Alexandra Hiniker, Pax Christi International (Moderator); Qusai Zakarya, Social Activist and Survivor of chemical attack in Moadamiya, Syria; Neil Sammonds, Researcher for Syria at Amnesty International; Ammar Al–Dimashqy, Social Activist in Besieged Areas; Nidal Bitari, Palestinian Lead for Human Rights in Syria; Dr. Najib Ghadbian, Special Representative to the United Nations of National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Force; H.E Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations.
Location: United Nations HQ, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Date: 5 June 2014
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung

 

Water-Energy-Food Nexus

At the ‘Sustainable Energy for All Forums’ there was a panel discussion on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, which highlighted interlinkages in the energy and water sector. Tania Rodiger-Vorwerk (Deputy Director General-Directorate 31, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) began the discussion, by stating that this was the very first public discussion on the HIO nexus. The demand for natural resources is consistently increasing and it is anticipated that the there will be severe shortages of natural resources if we don’t control and manage our resources effectively. Thus the aim of the nexus is to find intersectoral solutions designed to increase efficiency.
NEXUS News image 1.0.ashxRodiger also highlighted that Germany has been involved in the nexus through supporting regional dialogues through the high level African dialogue on Water-Food-Energy nexus in Nairobi in 2012 and supporting educational management. The main objectives of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development for the nexus are: collect and develop resources for nexus challenges; exchange information concerning practical experiences; integrate nexus perspective on policy level; promote nexus in other related sectors such as agriculture, irrigation etc.; and ensure HIO policy coherence.

Olivier Dubois (the Senior Natural Resources Officer and Coordinator, Energy Programme, FAO) added that nexus contributes phenomenally to sustainability, through three dimensions: resource efficiency; tradeoffs; and linking tradeoffs to opportunities. He highlighted that we are at the initial stages of building the nexus and thus need to develop nexus assessment and cost effective tools approach.Martin Hiller (Director General, REEEP) shared REEP’s contribution and initiatives, for instance a very simple technology of solar water pumps was converted into a private business in Kenya.

Anna Delgado (Water Unit, World Bank) noted that it is important to integrate energy-water planning at local and international level. The Thirsty Energy Initiative works to ensure governments integrate across the food, water and energy sectors. REEEP is in dialogue with China, as their water resources required energy expansion plans. She concluded by saying that the nexus requires a methodological approach, driven by demand and we should quantify tradeoffs.

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Meeting Title: Water-Energy-Food Nexus HIO, Sustainable Energy for All Forums
Speakers: Tania Rodiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director General-Directorate 31, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; Olivier Dubois, Senior Natural Resources Officer and Coordinator, Energy Programme, FAO; Anna Delgado, Water Unit, World Bank; Martin Hiller, Director General, REEEP; Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General, EuropeAid, European Commission.
Location: United Nations HQ; Conference Room B, New York
Written By WIT representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon