Senior officials at the launch of the International Year of Water Cooperation stress the central role of water in ensuring sustainable development, public health, poverty alleviation and combating the effects of climate change.
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO; Michel Jarraud, UN-Water Chair and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); and Hamrokhon Zarifi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan launched the year at UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, yesterday.
"Water is not just one subject among others, it is the central subject of international cooperation," said the Director-General of UNESCO, "... In 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized water as a human right and this must now be translated into reality. In a world where 300 water basins are shared between several countries, this can only be achieved through cooperation," Ms Bokova said.
More than 780 million people still do not have access to improved water and two and a half billion people have no access to improved sanitation services," stressed Michel Jarraud, the Chair of UN Water as he advocated reinforced cooperation in this area. He pointed out that that 40% of all natural disasters concern water, whether drought or flood, and voiced strong support for "UNESCO's effort in favour of water diplomacy as an essential instrument of dialogue and cooperation to create a more peaceful world."
Launching events continued throughout the day, notably with the participation of young people from France, Japan and the Netherlands at a youth event hosted by the municipality of Paris at the Pavillion de l'Eau.
During the launch ceremony, Mega Kumar of India presented her slogan for the International Year of Water Cooperation: Water, water everywhere, only if we share." Ms Kumar's slogan was chosen from over 12,000 slogans submitted as part of a world-wide competition.
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