Addressing Water Quality Challenges for the Attainment of SDGs
The UNESCO-IHP International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) side-event on “Addressing Water Quality Challenges for the Attainment of SDGs” will take place at the UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, on 16 June 2016 from 18:00 to 19:00, during the 22nd session of the IHP Intergovernmental Council (Paris, 13 – 17 June 2016).
This event will be organized by the International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) in the framework of the implementation of Theme 3 “Addressing Water Scarcity and Quality” of the Eighth Phase of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP-VIII) of UNESCO.
Water quality is intrinsically linked with human health, poverty reduction, gender equality, food security, livelihoods, and the preservation of ecosystems, as well as economic growth and social development of our societies. Water quality problems represent a major challenge in both developing and developed countries. Water quality degradation and water pollution translate directly to human health and environmental risks, as well as into ecological, social and economic problems. Newly emerging pollutants like personal care products and pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and industrial and household chemicals present in water and wastewater bring about a new water quality challenge and add more pressure to the world’s water resources with still unknown long-term effects on human health and ecosystems. Impacts of climate change, fast developing urban societies, and expanding economies on water quality, as well as water quality linkages in the water-energy-food nexus are becoming more evident, bringing new threats and challenges water security and sustainable development. Technical, institutional, policy and financial challenges still remain to be addressed despite global and national efforts to improve access to safe water and improve water quality and wastewater management.
UNESCO-IHP IIWQ supports Member States in protecting and sustainably managing the quality of freshwater resources towards the attainment of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by mobilizing scientific and policy-relevant expertise and facilitating knowledge generation and sharing to address water quality and wastewater challenges.
The side-event, thus, aims to inform Member States and IHP National Committees on the Initiative’s responses to water quality and wastewater issues in all regions (Africa, Arab States, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, SIDS).
In particular, the event will:
1) Present IIWQ key activities and flagship projects on water quality and wastewater;
2) Showcase IIWQ major achievements and update on progress made to support Member States on the attainment of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs related to water quality and wastewater;
3) Inform on IIWQ’s leading role in addressing global water quality challenges by: generating and disseminating scientific knowledge, state-of-the-art technological solutions and policy approaches; facilitating the sharing of best practices; and fostering scientific and policy cooperation on water quality and wastewater.
The side-event will make emphasis on major flagship projects, specific areas of interest and international events under the IIWQ umbrella, in particular:
• Emerging pollutants in water and wastewater (en.unesco.org/emergingpollutants). The UNESCO Project on Emerging Pollutants in Water and Wastewater (2014-2018), is a global response to address the threat new and emerging pollutants pose to human health and ecosystems. It aims to support UNESCO Member States to strengthen their scientific, technical and policy capacities to manage these risks caused by emerging pollutants in water and wastewater by improving water quality and wastewater management and promoting safe reuse of wastewater, and ultimately enhance water and food security.
• Monitoring water quality and wastewater (en.unesco.org/waterquality-IIWQ/activities-projects/monitoring-water-quality-wastewater). UNESCO-IHP IIWQ has already started addressing water quality and wastewater monitoring challenges, especially in developing countries, in order to support Member States improve water quality and wastewater monitoring towards the achievement of SDG water related targets.
• Water quality and climate change (en.unesco.org/waterquality-IIWQ/activities-projects/water-quality-climate-change). The crucial linkages between water quality and climate change is a new water quality challenge of growing concern, which is not often researched, nor studied. To improve knowledge and develop adaptation policy responses on this issue, UNESCO-IHP’s IIWQ has started facilitating scientific and policy discussions on policy responses to adapt to and mitigate climate change effects on the quality of world’s water resources.
• IIWQ Regional Consultations and Symposium Series on water quality (en.unesco.org/waterquality-IIWQ/regional-consultations-symposium-series). UNESCO IIWQ organizes annual IIWQ symposiums focusing on specific water quality issues in alignment with IHP-VIII strategic plan. IIWQ Regional Consultations were also organized on water quality in all regions of the world. Both the regional consultations and symposiums serve as a milestone to assess key priorities and challenges on water quality under the framework of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
The side-event, consequently will serve as an international platform to promote, disseminate and discuss IIWQ’s work and activities to respond to global water quality and wastewater challenges and the priorities towards the attainment of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, as well as to highlight IIWQ’s leading role in these areas.
Participants include Member States delegates, UNESCO Category I and Category II Centres representatives, water quality and wastewater experts, researchers, water professionals and practitioners, public health and environmental specialists, and policy-makers.
Dr. Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, Programme Specialist on water quality, and Ignacio Deregibus, Programme Consultant on water quality in the Division of Water Sciences of UNESCO are in charge of the organization of the meeting and can be contacted for information regarding this IIWQ side-event.