In this International Year on Water Cooperation, the joint efforts of the Danube countries to manage their water sustainably can be seen as part of a global endeavour. This great river connects past to present, country to country. It passes through or around ten countries. Sustainably managing such a vast and important resource presents many challenges, from local pollution to the growing impacts of climate change. By 2030 nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity.
I would like to highlight cooperation in three areas critical to sustainable development: food security, climate change and sanitation. First, food security. Agriculture is by far the largest user of freshwater. My ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ promotes sustainable agriculture by sharing best practices and harnessing the most appropriate technologies.
Second, climate change poses the risk of diminished supplies in much of the world. We must do everything we can to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To do that, we need to finalize a robust legal agreement on climate change in 2015. To add momentum to this process, I will convene a Climate Summit in September 2014.
Third, sanitation. Water and sanitation feature largely in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While the MDG target for providing access to improved water sources has been reached, 780 million people lack this basic necessity. Water and sanitation are obviously central to our efforts to achieve the MDGs and must figure prominently in the post-2015 development agenda.
Guided by this far-reaching vision, Member States can define a set of concise and inspiring sustainable development goals that will capture the imagination and mobilise the world, just as the Millennium Development Goals have done.