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Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD, Celebration of World Water Day and launch of UN World Water Development Report

Lugar: Online

22 marzo 2021


Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In my role as Chair of UN-Water – but also as President of IFAD -- it gives me great pleasure to be with you to celebrate World Water Day -- and to launch the UN World Water Development Report on ‘Valuing Water’.

First, let me thank FAO for hosting today’s event and for also leading – on behalf of UN-Water – this year's World Water Day Task Force together with the International Federation of Private Water Operators, and Public Services International. IFAD is also proud to contribute to this year's campaign. 

This year, the World Water Day campaign asked us to answer one simple question: “What does water mean to you?”

For me, water means life. We are 60 per cent water. Our health and well-being depend on water. The poor rural producers IFAD works with also depend on water for their lives and livelihoods – which is why indeed, 61 per cent of IFAD projects have a water component.

The food we eat, the safety of our communities, and the integrity of the natural environment—all depend on clean, safe, accessible water.

Of course, the way I personally value water may not be the way you do.  And yet, behind every opinion lies the same fact: water is fundamental to life and to livelihoods.

But to safeguard water for everyone and everything, policy makers need to understand the complexity of how people perceive and value water.

So the aim of this year’s World Water Day campaign was to capture as many different views as possible.

By listening to people around the world, a range of themes have emerged. These include the critical role water has in health and hygiene; water as a human right; the impact of climate change on water, and concerns about water scarcity. People also mentioned the need for political and personal action to improve the management of water resources.

These are themes also analyzed in this year’s edition of the UN World Water Development Report. The insights in this report will be invaluable as we work towards water and sanitation for all by 2030.

I would like to thank everyone behind the publication. And give a special thanks to UNESCO for publishing the report on behalf of UN-Water and to its World Water Assessment Programme for coordinating the production.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have no time to lose. We are seriously off-track in our commitment to meet SDG6. We must accelerate progress. In some areas—such as ensuring countries have operational agreements for water cooperation -- we must move eight times faster.  

The plans are in place. Working through the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework we can respond to the needs of people and the needs of the planet. Anything less is unacceptable.

I wish you all a happy World Water Day.