Image via WikipediaWorld Water Week, held last week in Stockholm, drew attention to water as means of achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on alleviating poverty and hunger by 2015.
Last week's water discussions concluded on Friday (10 September) with a 'Stockholm Statement' calling for a stronger focus on water in an upcoming review of the MDGs in New York next week.
The MDGs were agreed in 2000 and include halving by 2015 the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
But the Stockholm Statement stresses that in addition to these specific water-related MDGs, water is a core cross-cutting element for reaching every other development goal.
Access to water and sanitation is a prerequisite for ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality and improving health and environmental sustainability, and should therefore be put higher on the agenda, it says.
The statement calls for improved water management to avoid drastic increases in hunger caused by more floods and drought, and says access to water and sanitation is key to increasing women's opportunities to work and participate in society.
In particular, the statement urges the upcoming UN summit to improve international commitments made by all governments on the provision of sanitation and water for all, given that a "five-year drive on sanitation [...] is seriously lagging behind".
According to stakeholders present in Stockholm, "the world is on track for meeting or even surpassing the goal for drinking water," but will miss the sanitation target by some one billion people.
"Sanitation and water are not just targets or sectors. They are the fundamental basis for life and indispensable to sustainable economic and social development," the statement concludes.
Back in July, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution which declared that clean water and sanitation are fundamental human rights.