Statement by H.E. Mr. Jun YAMAZAKI,
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the UN General Assembly
On Water Cooperation
Panel 1: Setting the Stage – Issues, Challenges and Opportunities
For Water Cooperation
22 March 2013
At the outset, I would like to thank the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Vuk Jeremić, for convening this high-level interactive dialogue on water cooperation. I would also like to thank all the speakers for their contributions.
Water is the source of life and also an essential element for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. Japan recognizes that the water-related issues cover not only access to drinking water, but also disaster prevention, recycling and sustainable development, and that water also sits at the center of the nexus of food and energy. For these reasons, we strongly believe that water cooperation is one of the most important agenda for the international community; and that is the reason why Japan is one of the world’s top donors in the water-related areas.
The Secretary General organized the UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disaster two weeks ago, on 6 March 2013, and the Crown Prince of Japan, who is the Honorary President of UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), attended the meeting along with such important dignitaries as the Prince of Orange, the Chair of UNSGAB. This meeting was the first high-level expert meeting on water and disaster to be held at the UN. The Crown Prince provided a keynote address entitled “Revisiting the history of the interaction between human beings and water-related disasters – Exploration to find a hint for a more disaster-resilient society”. My delegation believes that such an event contributes to furthering future discussions at the United Nations concerning water and disaster.
A second point I would like to raise is that there is not much time left for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With particular regard to water, we recognize that MDG7 - the goal of halving the proportion of the world’s population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 - has already been achieved with regard to drinking water, but not with regard to sanitation. Furthermore, the goal achieved regarding drinking water still leaves a lamentable portion of world’s people with no access to drinking water. While we should pay attention to the discussion on how water cooperation will be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, we recognize that water cooperation is one of the prioritized agenda items.
With regard to the post-2015 development agenda, Japan launched an informal policy dialogue called the ‘Post-MDGs Contact Group’ at the end of 2011. Through this set up, my Government has facilitated discussions amongst interested participants including countries, organizations, research institutions, and civil society on relevant issues such as agenda-setting, which would include water.
Water cooperation connects directly to the lives of individuals. In that sense, it is also important in relation to human security, which Japan has been promoting as one of the pillars of our foreign policy. A General Assembly resolution that includes a common understanding on human security was adopted by consensus in September last year. My delegation believes that human security should be part of the guiding principles of the post-2015 development agenda.
A final point I would like to make is in relation to the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), which the Government of Japan will host in June this year. TICAD brings together various leaders from around the world, including African countries, donor countries, international and regional organizations, and civil society organizations. At TICAD IV, which took place in May 2008, the Government of Japan pledged to extend assistance consisting of such measures as installing water supply infrastructure to provide at least 6.5 million people with safe drinking water and building the capacity of 5,000 water resource managers. The results of our efforts are that around 10 million more people now have access to drinking water and more than 13,000 participants have attended our capacity building seminars; these results greatly exceeded our original pledge.
In the forthcoming TICAD V meeting, water and sanitation will continue to comprise one of the major themes. We are determined to advance our cooperative relationships in the area of water and sanitation so that we may contribute to the development of African countries. We hope to use the TICAD V conference as an opportunity to accelerate our efforts toward achieving the MDGs and to contribute to the establishment of the post-2015 development agenda.