SANTIAGO, Chile, CMC –Representatives of Latin American and Caribbean countries have approved the Regional Water Action Agenda, which identifies the priority areas and efforts needed to accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The agenda will also enable the region to attend the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, due to take place in March in New York, with one voice.
The Regional Agenda is the primary outcome of the third edition of the four-day Regional Water Dialogues 2023, which the Economic Commission organized for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) along with ten multilateral organizations, institutions specializing in water, and the Government of the Netherlands.
More than 20 countries from the region participated in the meeting, along with 80 panelists from the public and private sectors. ECLAC said 200 people participated in person, and more than 2,000 did so virtually.
Addressing the close of the high-level ministerial event at the weekend, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, said the drafting and approval of the Regional Water Action Agenda, which will serve as a contribution to the framework of the United Nations Water Conference, which he described as the most critical event on water in the last 50 years and a historical time to move towards a transition in water management.
“We have more than achieved the goal of this Regional Water Dialogue by not only analyzing in depth the challenges and progress related to SDG 6, reviewing innovative solutions.
“In addition, we have achieved commitments to actions and policies for accelerating its fulfillment in Latin America and the Caribbean, moving firmly towards a shared aspiration: a sustainable and inclusive water transition,” the UN regional commission’s highest authority emphasized.”
The ECLAC official praised the achievements and innovations that strengthen proper water governance in the region’s countries to move towards more sustainable management. However, he warned that countries still face numerous challenges and that the national water authority must have a higher rank. Governments must progressively bolster their institutions, eliminating current gaps and facilitating coordination among them.
He recalled that water-related disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean occur the most and have the most significant impact. He stressed that early warning systems take on vital importance since they reduce the population’s risk of being exposed to the effects of disaster, including flooding.
That is why he said it is necessary to invest in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to manage these situations better and create resilience, especially in the Caribbean’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
As a result, he should have highlighted the importance of having adequate financial resources in countries with more considerable shortfalls in infrastructure and coverage.
“We need investment mechanisms that would enable the drinking water and sanitation sector to access new sources of financing, as well as to show examples of the benefits of investing in the circular economy for the industry, also benefiting the population’s health.
“Investing 1.3 percent of regional GDP (gross domestic product) over ten years to close gaps in coverage in the safely managed drinking water and sanitation sector would reduce carbon emissions, mitigate pollution problems due to wastewater and create 3.6 million green jobs each year,” he said.
The ECLAC executive secretary also welcomed the launch of the Water Sustainability Network and Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (ROSA), promoted by ECLAC, and urged for regional and territorial cooperation along with strengthening provincial and territorial water cooperation so it can be inclusive, intersectoral and geared towards action.
“We at ECLAC call for action and put our expertise at the disposal of Latin American and Caribbean countries to strengthen institutional and technical capacities, improve governance, public policies, and water management, all of this to transform the development model in the region,” he said.
ECLAC said the Regional Water Action Agenda aligns with and reinforces several treaties, agreements, and strategies around water management and constitutes a call to action for mobilizing all the policy, technical and financial resources available in and for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean.