Water cooperation is an imperative, not a choice. This is the message delivered by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at today’s official World Water Day celebrations in The Hague (Netherlands).
One month after the launch of the International Year of Water Cooperation at UNESCO Headquarters (11 February), the celebrations in The Hague highlight the importance of such cooperation. The event also seeks to ensure the issue is given priority on the international community’s post-2015 development agenda.
High level participants at the event included Prince Willem-Alexander of Orange from the Netherlands, Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Michel Jarraud, Chairperson of UN Water. They were joined by international experts, decision-makers and representatives from intergovernmental organizations and civil society.
In her opening address, the Director-General recalled that 90 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that must share water resources with their neighbours. Cooperation, she said, “is more than a technical or scientific issue,” it is also “about fighting poverty and protecting the environment”.
“Too often,” she added, “people think water cooperation is only the concern of States. This is not enough. Water cooperation must happen at all levels – from the local to the global […] This concerns governments and the private sector, it concerns all of us.”
2013 was proclaimed International Year of Water Cooperation, by the United Nations General Assembly. Cooperation is also the theme of World Water Day, celebrated each 22 March. At the request of UN Water, UNESCO was given responsibility for preparing celebrations for both the Year and the Day.