Toespraak van de Prins van Oranje tijdens de 18e UNSGAB vergadering in Panama

11 juni 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

Thank you for joining us this morning as we open the 18th meeting of the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. On behalf of all our members, I would like to thank our gracious host, the Government of Panama. Coming from a coastal low-lying state with a history defined by canals, I feel very at home here in Panama! 

We are delighted to be joined this morning by Roberto Henríquez, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Excellencies, we look forward to hearing from both of you during our opening session.

Our Board was established to push for achieving the water and sanitation MDG targets by 2015.  In the three years remaining we have two main tasks. 

First, we must continue to make the case that strategic financial planning, targeted policies and increased political will are needed for both the water and sanitation MDG targets.  This year.  Next year. And right through to 2015.  For sanitation we are most certainly making this case through the Sanitation Drive to 2015. 

Second, we must also help to shape the post-2015 development agenda. Our Advisory Board's legacy will be ensuring that strong global goals for water and sanitation are in place three years from now. We meet on the eve of defining events that will set the course for multilateral affairs and development priorities for the decades to come. 

Next week, leaders will gather in Rio for the United Nations Conference on Development. Our Board's messages-universal access to drinking water and basic sanitation, a global vision for wastewater management, increased water productivity in food production-have gained traction throughout the Rio +20 process. It's too early to know Rio's exact outcomes, but the Conference Declaration along with a possible call for Sustainable Development goals will create the context for the post-2015 development agenda. 

Another defining moment will come next year at the Millennium Development Goal Summit in New York. This is an opportunity for our Board to make a strong case for the centrality of both drinking water and basic sanitation for development.

How to best advance these two main tasks will take up much of our time during this 18th session here in Panama.

During our meeting we will discuss the challenges of aligning broad global goals with monitoring systems to track their actual on-the-ground progress. In March, the Joint Monitoring Programme announced that the MDG target for drinking water has been met. This is most welcome news, of course, and we congratulate the leaders, workers and communities who have contributed to this success. However, there are still reasons for caution.  For example, in many developing countries the richest 20 percent enjoy almost universal coverage, while the poorest 20 percent have pitiful coverage. And since it has not been possible globally to measure water quality, we have had to use the indicator "use of improved sources" as a proxy for "access to safe sources." But we must remember that it is just a proxy. Though we know how many people have access to drinking water, we do not know if that water is actually safe to drink. These are challenges that will arise with any global development goal and we have learned a great deal over the last ten years about goal setting and monitoring systems. We will welcome several senior members of the Joint Monitoring Programme team to discuss these challenges tomorrow

Later this morning as we focus on our Board's financing objectives, we will be joined by representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank. We look forward to learning more about their water policies and how to further promote innovative financing mechanisms in the region.  During this discussion we will also consider the outcomes of the last Sanitation and Water for All High-level meeting held in April in Washington.  Wastewater is also an important priority which we will advance today. I know our members are looking forward to learning more about Panama City's wastewater strategy when we visit the Residual Water Treatment Plant on Thursday. 

I mentioned earlier that the drinking water MDG target has been met according to the Joint Monitoring Programme Report released this March. The same report contains sobering news about insufficient progress on basic sanitation. At current rates of progress, the MDG target may not be reached until 2026.  An estimated 2.6 billion people are still without sanitation. To keep the spotlight on this development crisis, the Board introduced the Sanitation Drive to 2015. Tomorrow we will discuss this campaign and its new focus on ending open defecation. In the same session we will also welcome Dr. Felix Bonilla from Panama's Ministry of Health to learn more about more about LatinoSan III which Panama will host next year. 

Let me congratulate Panama for stepping forward as a leader for sanitation both as host as LatinoSan III and also in the Untied Nations as a co-sponsoring country of the resolution calling for the Sanitation Drive to 2015!  On Wednesday our Vice-Chair, Uschi Eid and I are honoured to join Minister Vergar and Minister Henríquez in a press conference to announce LationSan III. 

We will also consider the Board's Water and Disaster work on Wednesday along with learning about the Sino-Swiss Workshop on Flood Control and Disaster Migration hosted in China. 

Excellencies, fellow Board Members, friends,

I will wrap up my remarks by thanking the Government of Panama once again for their warm hospitality.  It is a real pleasure to be in this beautiful city and I look forward to learning more about Panama from Minister Henríquez.