The wastewater challenge is not only a threat, but a challenge where we can find opportunities for green employment, social well-being and ecological health
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UN- SGAB) is committed to accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goal targets for water and sanitation.
UNSGAB collaborates with others to galvanize action and fos- ter new initiatives. One of our initiatives for improving basic sanitation coverage was the UN-backed International Year on Sanitation (IYS) in 2008. By all accounts, the IYS was a suc- cess. It triggered an honest, concrete and productive public discussion about expanding access to sanitary toilets and im- proving hygiene while fostering political commitments to act.
UNSGAB now is working to ensuring that these IYS com- mitments are fulfilled. We also are building on this positive momentum to widen the discussion to include the collection, treatment and reuse of human, household, agricultural, storm and industrial wastewater and run-off. More than 80 percent of wastewater is discharged untreated into water bodies. This un- treated wastewater is the missing link to meeting the sanitation challenge. It has a material impact on human health, social and economic development and ecosystem sustainability.
The 2009 Istanbul Ministerial Statement embodies a global commitment to “further develop and implement wastewater col- lection, treatment and reuse.” This report aims to place waste- water on the international and national agenda by pointing out that wastewater management provides opportunities not only challenges. Now, more than ever, we must promote strategic fi-
nancial planning at the country level to maximize efficiency to improve coverage in the water and sanitation sectors.
UNSGAB has gained valuable experience and understanding that we will now bring to bear on improving wastewater man- agement. Meeting this challenge will require new alliances and we are happy to have collaborated with UNEP, UN-HABITAT and UN Water in the development of this report. We are ready to work with the global community to promote a new wastewa- ter paradigm encompassing modular design, appropriate tech- nology, and sustainable financing. For as the report “Sick wa- ter? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development” points out, the wastewater challenge is not only a threat, but is a challenge where we can find opportunities for green employment, social well-being and ecological health.
HRH, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands Chair, UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation