Pacific representatives at the 7th World Water Forum in Gyeongju, Korea, have stressed the importance of effective partnerships to the region achieving development goals for water and sanitation.
The World Water Forum, held every three years, brings together Governments, international organisations and civil society to progress solutions to the world’s most pressing water and sanitation issues.
While the recent impacts of cyclones made participation difficult for many in the Pacific, representation by the Governments of Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa ensured that Pacific issues and solutions were communicated to Forum delegates.
Messages from the Pacific were further supported at a side session convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Water and Sanitation Programme, enabling dialogue on issues affecting the water security of Small Island Developing States.
In addressing the Ministerial process of the Forum, the Hon Faamoetauloa Lealaiauloto Dr Faale Tumalii MP, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment for Samoa, highlighted the region’s success in applying Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approaches to addressing water and sanitation issues.
“IWRM has a lot of benefits for the small island states of the Pacific, and it is our hope that development partners will continue to be more involved in strengthening water and sanitation approaches,” the Hon Minister said.
The Hon Ben Micah MP, Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investments for PNG, stressed the key role of civil society in increasing people’s access to safe water and sanitation, urging delegates to actively engage non-government organisations as “partners for human needs”.
Addressing the Forum’s parliamentarian process, the Hon Dr Jiko Luveni, Speaker of the Parliament of Fiji, reaffirmed the status of safe water and sanitation as a fundamental human right, while also noting the particular challenges facing Pacific island communities.
“Water is vital for the life and health of our people and ecosystems, and the challenges that our Government has are substantial, especially relating to climate adaptation and managing risks,” the Hon Dr Luveni said.
Participants in the SPC side session reviewed emerging regional data on levels of access to safe water and sanitation, including estimates that only about half the population of the Pacific currently has access to an improved drinking water supply, while only one-third has access to improved sanitation.
Participants also explored how new and existing partnerships can be harnessed to support movement towards universal access to safe water and sanitation, as the Pacific prepares for the ambitious targets of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has a Water and Sanitation Programme that works across the region to assist Pacific island countries and territories demonstrate the benefits of improved water and sanitation management on the ground. More information on water management in the Pacific can be found at www.pacificwater.org.