June 23, 2024

General Studies Paper 3

Context: Recently, the United Nations 2023 Water Conference was held in New York.

  • The Conference was held after a gap of 46 years. It coincided with the review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028).
  • The review was necessitated after realisation that   we are not on track to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) no. 6 for water:“Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
  • The theme was “Our watershed moment: uniting the world for water”
  • The first water conference was held in 1977 in Mar de Plata, Argentina.It resulted in the first global ‘Action Plan’ recognizing that “all peoples have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs”.

Initiatives taken at the Conference: 

  • Water Action Agenda : 700 voluntary commitments to form the Water Action Agenda.
  • Climate resilient water and sanitation infrastructure– USA announced a commitment of up to $49 billion in investments to support climate resilient water and sanitation infrastructure and services
  • Quality Infrastructure –Japan announced that it will contribute 500 billion yen to the solution of water-related social issues faced by the Asia-Pacific region by developing quality Infrastructure
  • River basins management and clean running water–Vietnam pledged to develop policies for major river basins management by 2025 and clean running water by 2030
  • Africa’s water investments gap – The African Union Commission and Continental Africa Investment Programme (AIP) aims to close Africa’s water investments gap by mobilising at least $30 billion per year by 2030.
  • European Union (EU) – The EU aims to support 70 million individuals to an improved drinking water source and sanitation facility by 2030.
  • Water Convention and transboundary cooperation – Switzerland submitted 5 commitments in the areas of Water Convention and transboundary cooperation.

Challenges :

  • The commitments are non-binding in nature and unlike 50 years ago, today’s problems are more complex.
  • The water sector is particularly prone to fragmentation because water problems and their solutions tend to be local. Such global mobilisations are not that effective as compared to those in other fields.
  • The water problems we face today are no longer about access and therefore infrastructure spending no longer translates directly to sustained access to water and sanitation.
  • The conference failed to address the violence and threats faced by communities trying to protect dwindling water sources.

 

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