On January 19, 2017, the Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. During his speech, he raised concerns over the protection of important agreements, such as the Paris Climate agreement and UN Clean Water Initiatives.
He also praised the UN for their work on global poverty, healthcare, and other issues, concerning the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Around 1.1 billion people are no longer in poverty, and 1.9 billion have access to safe drinking water.
This statistic on water is crucial as the need for clean water initiatives and sanitation remains an important goal for the UN.
Water For Life Clean Water Initiatives:
The UN-Water For Life program saw what they refer to as an “International Decade for Action.” This means ten years where the global community can get behind an idea and work towards common goals.
The focus here was the basic human right to water and sanitation. The aims and ethos of this action plan stemmed from a simple article. It was adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2002.
The article states that “the human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.” This means between 50 and 100 liters of water per person, per day, to meet basic needs, with the water source within 1,000 meters of the home.
Safe water should have a good color, odor and taste and free from harmful chemicals and microorganisms. This decade of action ran from 2005-2015. Therefore, we are currently two years past the end date, and there is still a strong need for improved access to safe water and sanitation in many countries.
Clean Water And Sanitation In The UN Sustainable Development goals
There is a focus on water and health in the current UN Sustainable Development goals. These goals work over 17 different areas of health, sociological and environmental development across the world. They identify current problems and targets with a common aim of success by 2030.
The UN have recognized this ongoing shortage in the developing world and the knock-on effect on health, lifestyles and even education.
The concern is that 25% of the population could deal with chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water by 2050. Therefore, the UN want “universal and equitable” access to all by 2030.
The 6th of the 17 Sustainable Development goals is all about clean water initiatives and sanitation. There is a focus on the need to increase the supply of freshwater to meet that goal of a water source within 1000 meters of the home.
Also, goals are looking at the reduction of harmful chemicals and general improvement in water quality. This all relates to those initial aims of the Water For Life project.
As for sanitation, there are hopes to improve access, especially for vulnerable women, and to improve the management of sanitation in local communities.
As per a recent identification, 2.4 billion people live without a toilet. Also, 17% of workplace deaths are caused by disease transmission through poor hygiene standards.
Another interesting goal here is the aim to look after water-related ecosystems on a global scale by 2020, not 2030.
Getting The Message Out To The Wider World And Developed Communities:
Clean water initiatives as simple as World Water Day or World Toilet Day can have a big impact on educating people. They help to explain the issues surrounding water use, access, and sanitation.
Young people in the developed world can engage with posters, social media and large event to learn how water use affects the wider world.
Also, they can see what it is like in other parts of the world and understand the wider issues. They know what a privilege it is to have clean running water in a home and a working sanitation system.
What Does The Future Hold?
The Chinese President Xi Jinping continued his address with a striking statement. He said “we hardly notice natural resources such as air, water, soil and blue sky when we have them. But we won’t be able to survive without them.”
His words, the ongoing goals of the UN and the educational work of events like World Water Day show how we cannot take clean water initiatives and sanitation for granted.
The 2030 Agenda may be bold, but it has vital consequences.