World Water Day: Local action and commitment to bring water and sanitation to all

World Water Day

On the 22 March 2016 World Water Day will be celebrated across the globe, a chance to highlight all issues related to fresh water. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Water and Jobs” since water stress and the lack of decent work can exacerbate security challenges, force migration and undo the progress made in the fight to eradicate poverty. 

“Water and Jobs” and the Sustainable Development Goals

This year´s World Water Day links SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).  The implications, responsibility and competences of local and regional governments with regard to clean water and sanitation are far reaching. United Cities and Local Governments reaffirm that water is a fundamental right.  These two goals are inherently interlinked and political decision-makers should prioritize investment for resilient urban settlements to tackle water scarcity, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, protect communities from water-related disasters, and the effects of climate change.

The Declaration of Daegu-Gyeongbuk towards Habitat III

In an increasingly urbanized world, local governments are taking on greater responsibilities for urban management and service delivery. But they cannot act alone. There is an increased need for partnership and collaboration with communities, the private sector, civil society and women’s organizations, as with central and other levels of government. However, local governments should be empowered but also responsible to ensure universal access to services and to preserve public goods“ 

Extract from Issue Paper 6-Urban Governance for Habitat III. 

This statement applies perfectly to the theme of water and sanitation which remains, in parts of the world, the main topic for local governments that can directly impact other sectors such as education, health, development and environmental protection.

Among the concrete commitments made by local governments at the 7th World Water Forum in Korea were the following:

• Apply the principles of good governance, and particularly the principles of fairness, transparency and accountability, including the implementation of existing laws on water;

• Involve water management more closely in planning, design and urban development, but also in other relevant areas of urban management;

• Implement integrated approaches, particularly by matching different uses of water to different qualities of water and promoting the reuse of treated wastewater;

It’s these actions that can strengthen and translate into local action plans towards Habitat III and on World Water Day UCLG calls on its members to implement the commitments contained in the Declaration of Daegu-Gyeongbuk adopted in April 2015 to ensure implementation and sustainable water management at a local level (click here).

UN Water Partnership

Last month UCLG announced that it will be partnering with UN Water, the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater related issues, reaffirming water as one of UCLG´s top priorities.  As the only local government partner UCLG will bring a local perspective to the discussions towards action and providing outreach on the important role that local authorities play in dealing with issues related to water.