The fulfilment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water.
Good management of water is especially challenging due to some of its unique characteristics: it is unevenly distributed in time and space, the hydrological cycle is highly complex. Rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change threaten the resource while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses. Water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests.
In designating 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation the aim was to raise awareness both on the potential for increased cooperation and on the challenges facing water management in the light of the increased demand for water access and services.
Among many of the goals achieved, the Year has provided a means to strengthen the dialogue and cooperation with key stakeholders, at all levels. The closing ceremony at the beginning of December, provided a synthesis of the major achievements of the International Year, explored the modalities to further foster water cooperation and set the agenda for its follow-up.
As we look ahead, the Zaragoza Conference, to be held on 13-16 January in Spain, is organized by UN-Water Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), and will reach beyond the “water for energy” and/or “energy for water” concept focusing on a more practical examination of how tools and partnerships help developing appropriate joint responses and what are the measures for managing trade-offs, identifying synergies, and maximizing co-benefits.
The main celebrations of World Water Day 2014 will be organized by UNU and UNIDO on behalf of UN-Water on 20-21 March 2014 and will take place at the UNU Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. On this occasion, the World Water Development Report 2014 on Water and Energy will be launched, and the UN-Water "Water for Life" Best Practices Award will be given. The winner of the Stockholm Water Prize will also be announced.
Water and sanitation are essential for human well-being, economic development and a healthy environment. Every year, water-related natural disasters such as storms, floods and droughts have devastating impacts on the lives of millions of people, on our economies and on the environment. Making sure that all have access to sufficient quantity and quality of water while preventing and mitigating risks from weather-related hazards is clearly one of the most critical challenges of our future.
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