UN chief calls for int'l efforts to achieve "water secure world"


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday called on the international community to work towards a "water secure world" as part of the global ecosystem plan noted in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post- 2015 agenda.

"Although seemingly abundant, only a tiny amount of the water on our planet is easily available as freshwater," Ban said in a message issued here by his spokesperson to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity, which falls on May 22.

In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The theme for this year's observance is Water and Biodiversity.

Presently, "we live in an increasingly water insecure world where demand often outstrips supply and where water quality often fails to meet minimum standards," the secretary-general said.

In his message, the UN chief noted that biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are central to achieving the vision of a "water secure world."

More specifically, "ecosystems influence the local, regional and global availability and quality of water," the secretary- general said.

For example, "forests help regulate soil erosion and protect water quality and supply" and "wetlands can reduce flood risks," Ban said, adding that "soil biodiversity helps maintain water for crops."

That's why last year's Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development recognized the role of ecosystems in maintaining water quantity and quality, he said.

"Integrating nature-based solutions into urban planning can help us build better water futures for cities, where water stresses may be especially acute given the rapid pace of urbanization," he added.

The secretary-general also called on countries to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and "therefore help us all to work toward the future we want."

The Nagoya Protocol was adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its tenth meeting on Oct. 29, 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.

The protocol is aimed at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.