Openingstoespraak van de Prins van Oranje van de 19e UNSGAB-vergadering in Nairobi

27 november 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Excellencies, fellow Board Members, friends,

It is a genuine pleasure to open our meeting here in Nairobi.  We are truly grateful to the Government of Kenya for hosting our session in Africa.  I would like to personally thank the Honourable Minister of Water and Irrigation for her leadership.  Excellency, we are delighted to be here in Nairobi and we hope that our time here will bring some benefit to the Kenyan people and to all Africans who need improved sanitation, water supply and better water resources management.  I would also like to recognize our Kenyan member, Dr. Eric Odada who has generously contributed his time and energy to make this meeting a reality.  Even though we are meeting for the 19th time, this meeting is unprecedented.  I can not remember any previous Board meetings when the Executive Directors of two UN agencies joined our opening!  Michel Jarraud and Achim Steiner we are delighted to be meeting at Gigiri, the headquarters for both UN Habitat and the UN Environment Programme. Thanks to both of you and to your able staff who have helped organize this event.  And Mr. Stelzer, thank you for once again being here and for liaising with the Secretary-General. 

Our Board works globally.  We have met in all regions of the world forging agreements with development banks, meeting with Ministers and leaders to make the case that improved sanitation and water services will advance development.  In this effort, we have developed a particular bond with the people and institutions on this continent.    The Board has worked closely with AMCOW, particularly since 2006 when we had our last African meeting in Tunis. The Council is an indispensible body in our efforts to increase drinking water and basic sanitation coverage in Africa.  In fact, we have encouraged other regions to follow Africa's lead to create similar ministerial bodies for sanitation and water.  Together with AMCOW our Board encouraged the African Union to adopt the Sharm El-Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa in 2008.  And we are lucky to have former AMCOW Chair, Ms. Maria Mutagamba of Uganda on our Board.  Just this year the Council celebrated its 10th Anniversary.  Congratulations to AMCOW for turning 10! I know all our members are looking forward to our Dialogue with African friends and partners on Wednesday afternoon.

On Thursday we will host a "High-level African Dialogue on the Water-Food-Energy Nexus" with the African Union - another important partner in our work in Africa.  With more than seven billion people on the planet, it is our responsibility to find how to meet our needs more efficiently.  We are bumping up against natural resource limits.  This isn't about politics or ideology.  It is about the planet we are going to leave behind.  Simply put, we must change the way we live.  In Europe.  In Asia.  On this continent and all over the world.  A nexus approach will help us make this change.  How?  By identifying cross-sectoral impacts so that more efficient solutions can be pursued.   Think of Biofuels.  Using corn for fuel is offered as an energy solution.  This makes sense on the surface and in many parts of the world this path is being aggressively pursued.  But what do biofuels mean for food security?  And what about demands on water supply especially in places that are already water scarce.  A nexus approach would mean that decision makers considering biofuels would explore feasible trade-offs before making major investments.  And in the process helping policy makers achieve greater policy coherence.  This is needed.  We must build development pathways which are resource efficient, equitable and sustainable. All levels of governance from the local to the international can use a nexus approach to ensure a sustainable future. 

Later this afternoon we will have one of the most important discussions in the Board's history.  Former SG, Kofi Annan, an esteemed African who recognized the importance of water and sanitation, created this Board.  He did so because he recognized that more progress was needed water and sanitation MDG targets.  And he also saw that pressure was needed at all levels.  By the women and girls who stand in long lines to fetch water for their families.  By politicians willing to talk about toilets.  And also globally through a Board able to meet all over the word making the case for sanitation and water to development banks, to Presidents and Prime ministers to regional bodies like the African Union.  I believe we have done a lot, but clearly the battle is only half won.  We will not meet the sanitation MDG target.  Not by a long shot.  And so as we head closer and closer to the end of 2015, we must make one of our final contributions.  We must work with all our partners, using all possible points of intervention to ensure that the water and sanitation are well reflected in the post 2015 development framework and the Sustainable Development Goals.  By articulating our messages and defining our strategy now, we can make the case for sanitation and water.  This is an important part of our legacy.  This afternoon we will discuss this challenge while also reflecting on how to assist the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General as they roll out a UN-Wide initiative on universal access to water and sanitation.  In this effort, we are working closely with UN water and I would like to welcome its Chair Michel Jarraud.

This September, members our financing working group, Gerard Payen and Roy Torkelson participated in a joint study with the World Bank to explore how the Kenyan government could further finance the water sector by leveraging private investment.  Opening up these avenues for investment will help ensure that the infrastructure and institutions needed to deliver water get the financing they need.  Tomorrow we will learn more about this study, but I do know that Kenya holds tremendous potential for attracting investment.  And the ministries of water and finance are already working together to make it happen.  I would like to congratulate the Minister for her innovation in this field.  I know Kenya will be able to share valuable water financing insight with other countries.

Friends, we have many other agenda items to work through over the next two days including plans for a major water and disaster event, and so I will keep these opening comments brief.  Minister, excellencies and friends, let me once again share how happy we are to be in Africa.  Each day holds challenging topics and I know we will leave Kenya knowing where we will focus our energy in the next several years.  Thank you.