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Launching of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace

16 November 2015
Launching of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace

Remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Launching of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace
Monday, 16 November 2015 at 09:00

Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter,
Secretary-General Michel Jarraud,
Ladies and gentleman:

Water is essential for life.
And for sustainable development.
So is Peace.

It is a great pleasure to be here today for the ‘Launching of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace’, two essential elements for the well-being of humankind and for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mes plus sincères remerciements au gouvernement suisse et au Pôle Eau de Genève pour l’organisation de cet important évènement. Permettez-moi également de féliciter la Suisse pour son engagement de longue durée dans le domaine de l’eau, à travers de nombreux partenariats avec les Nations Unies et des organisations non-gouvernementales, et sa promotion continue de l’eau comme instrument de paix et de coopération.

The launch of the initiative is very timely. Firstly, it happens at the end of the “International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015”. Secondly, today’s launch comes shortly after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world of this new framework will guide us all for the next 15 years. And both water and peace play a key role in this new agenda. Finally, launching today’s event at the beginning of the ‘Geneva Peace Week’ is a strong message and symbol for stronger interactive engagement between our water and peace communities.

Let me reflect for a moment on the new Agenda for Sustainable Development: we now have a dedicated goal on water and sanitation - SDG 6 - that sets out to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. It is important to note that SDG 6 goes beyond the focus of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on drinking water and basic sanitation to now cover the entire water cycle, including the management of water, wastewater and ecosystem resources.

The ‘water goal’ characterizes in a nutshell the holistic, inclusive, cross-sectorial and innovative nature of the 2030 Agenda. Water is now put at the very core of sustainable development, with an horizontal and vertical approach. The sustainable management of water is recognised as a key factor for success of other SDGs as it can contribute to poverty reduction, protection of human rights, disaster risk reduction, political stability, and many others.

Peace, the other focus of today’s discussions besides water, is also crucial in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 16 of the SDGs is dedicated to peace. More specifically to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.

Water and peace go hand in hand. Tailor made, intelligent and innovative policies linking water and peace can indeed contribute to the prevention and solution of conflicts. Strengthening our efforts in this area is more urgent than ever – we all know that numerous conflicts about water are either about to begin or escalate.

‘International Geneva’ is a well-established and recognised hub for peace and has an important role to play in the implementation of the SDGs. Concerning water, Geneva is incredibly well endowed with numerous UN agencies, international organisations, NGOs, academic institutions and think tanks. This presence is a unique chance to capitalize the local know-how and expertise that will surely serve, nourish and enrich the work and future success of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace.

I wish to congratulate once more Switzerland, all the ‘co-convening countries’ and the Geneva Water Hub for the establishment of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace, that will work on developing a set of proposals aiming to strengthen the global architecture to prevent and resolve water-related tensions and conflicts, and facilitate the use of water for building peace.

I wish the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace and its distinguished members every success and I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of its work. May your discussions have the desired catalysing effect on the water community – linking it with the strong peace community, and ultimately may they contribute to transforming water from a source of potential crisis into an instrument of peace.

I thank you.