Building peace in the minds of men and women

Water is the common denominator of many global challenges but can be the common solution also, says UNESCO Director-General to the Budapest Water Summit

In her opening remarks at the Budapest Water Summit, Director-General Bokova emphasized that water cooperation is more than a scientific or technical issue: “It is about fighting poverty and protecting the environment. It is about saving children from disease. It is about allowing girls to go to school instead of walking kilometers to fetch water. It is about strengthening human dignity, by providing all women and men with access to sanitation. Fundamentally, it is about peace, on the basis of dialogue between States.”

“Water cooperation is about human dignity as much as it is about development”, she continued. “Cooperation around water, for water and through water, must happen everywhere – between States and within them – because there can be no development without water, and no sustainable human development without sustainable water management.” To this end, “we must reach decision-makers outside the ‘water box’, to provide them with tools to understand the consequences of their decisions and to highlight alternative ways forward”, said Ms. Bokova.

She added that “sustainable water is essential to reaching all of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and it must lie at the heart of the global sustainable development agenda to follow.” The Director-General concluded, noting that “There is enough freshwater in the world – our challenge is to share it, to better assess risks, to link the sciences more tightly with policy”.

The 2013 Budapest Water Summit, the theme of which is "The Role of Water and Sanitation in the Global Sustainable Development Agenda", forms part of the events of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation led by UNESCO, and aims to provide guidance on the most pressing water issues – drinking water, integrated water management, international water cooperation, innovative water technologies, sanitation, waste water treatment – with a view to contributing to the development of water-related goals for the post-2015 development agenda.

On the margins of the Summit, the Director-General held bilateral meetings, starting with the President of Hungary, Mr. Áder. In addition to a working lunch with Mr. Zoltán Balog, Minister for Human Resources, the Director-General met with the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Professor József Pálinkás. Issues discussed during these meetings included: water management and cooperation; the water-energy-food nexus; the impact of climate change on the global water cycle; Hungary’s education reform; the situation of teachers; Roma education and their social integration; Holocaust education and the Holocaust Remembrance Programme; intangible cultural heritage; and the 6th World Science Forum on 24-27 November 2013, which will be held for the first time outside Budapest in Rio de Janeiro.