The UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) outlines its water and sanitation strategy for 2013-2015. With the expiry of the Millenium Development Goals, the Hashimoto Action Plan (HAP) III endeavors to define water and sanitation objectives for the post-2015 world. One of the commitments of HAP III is the promotion of the UNWC.
The UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) on October 9th unveiled the Hashimoto Action Plan (HAP) III, which defines activities to be undertaken in the period 2013-2015. The end game of these activities is the shaping of global water and sanitation policy, and, more importantly, the definition of water and sanitation targets for the post-2015 world, date at which the Millennium Development Goals are set to expire.
HAP III was developed following the recognition, during the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, that water and sanitation challenges continue to be one of the most serious struggles the world has to deal with. The goal of the Hashimoto Plan, therefore, is to strive for universal access to clean water and sanitation. With this, and the acknowledgment that there is unfortunately still a long way to go before this objective is achieved, HAP III outlines the pursuit of the activities undertaken by the previous two Hashimoto Plans for the period leading to 2015 and the expiry of the MDGs.
HAP III plans on tackling the issues it identifies mainly through advocacy. The Plan describes the actions it commits to and details the ways in which it will do so. These include: the ‘Sanitation Drive’, an advocacy advocacy to convince stakeholders of the importance of setting sanitation and health as a priority on the policy agenda; advocacy for better wastewater management; promoting the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) model for more efficient water-use; and pushing for increased financial resources and collaborating with partners to overcome obstacles to local-level financing.
In an encouraging maneuver taking place amidst growing support and momentum, the UNSGAB commits to promote the UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC) and persuade potential state parties in an effort to secure the remaining necessary ratifications for its entry into force.
The first Hashimoto Plan, entitled ‘Your Action, Our Action’, was adopted in 2006, and was thus named to commemorate the passing of its first Chair, Ryutaro Hashimoto, who made it his life’s work to set a framework for global action on water and sanitation challenges.
The activities that HAP III plans for are part and parcel of the holistic approach adopted by UN organs and agencies to tackle the problem of clean water and sanitation. They are meant to shore up momentum and support for a global final push to achieve the MDGs.
In addition to these activities, HAP III underscores the imperative of following through with the MDGS once they expire. It thus asks relevant actors to secure a dedicated water goal in the post-2015 development agenda, by defining a water-specific Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Because the MDGs that affected water issues are those that are the farthest from hitting their target, the Hashimoto Plan puts a strong emphasis on the need for a forcible commitment to meet the objectives of universal access to clean water and sanitation. The importance of water for sustainable development and to help each individual reach an adequate standard of living had already been insisted upon in the Rio+20 Conference.
SDGs are a series of objectives to be achieved for the post-2015 world, and are to replace the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Under the slogan ‘The Future We Want’, SDGs, when defined, will be targets that every country will commit to hit by a certain date. Similarly to the MDGs, the SDGs are a component of the worldwide drive to build a world in which every individual has achieved a landmark standard of living. The process of defining SDGs was started during the 2012 Rio+20 Conference, which set the process as a priority for the UN policy agenda.
As stated in HAP III, “the Board calls for a global post-2015 goal on water that includes targets on at least three essential objectives:
1) Achieve universal access to sustainable sanitation and to drinking water that is really safe
2) Increase wastewater management and pollution prevention
3) Improve integrated water resources management and water-use efficiency
Targets and indicators need to be designed and monitored in each of these three areas.”
The UNSGAB recommends these three aims become objectives in a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). To achieve these aims, the Plan calls for regional bodies and national governments to prioritize water and sanitation and endorse a water SDG; increased capacity building to support IWRM planning; continued donor support, including on monitoring progress; and partnerships with international institutions.
The UNSGAB concludes by stating: “UNSGAB recognizes that water challenges cover a wide spectrum. Making progress on access to safe drinking water and sanitation is impossible without due attention to the larger water cycle underpinned by an ambitious global water vision.”
UNSGAB website: http://www.unsgab.org/
The text of the Hashimoto Action Plan III can be found here: http://www.unsgab.org/content/documents/hap3.pdf