UN-HABITAT Launches Consultation on Wastewater Management and Water Quality (January 2013)


14 January 2013

UN Human Settlements Programme’s (UN-HABITAT) Executive Director Joan Clos has announced the launch of a Global Consultation on Wastewater Management and Water Quality for the Post-2015 Agenda. The Consultation aims to build consensus around key water challenges related to the post-2015 development agenda.

The consultation will kick off with an online debate from 14 January to 17 February, and will culminate with a high-level meeting on “Water Resources Management and Wastewater Management and Water Quality,” which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27-28 February.

At the launch, Clos stressed that water management and “especially wastewater is often conveniently forgotten in the political debate while in reality it is a time bomb waiting to explode,” particularly given urbanization and population growth trends. He called for: reducing water consumption; reducing the amount of harmful pollutants that enter water systems; and increasing emphasis on the prevention of wastewater to ensure water cycle efficiency. Noting current climate events, Clos added that contaminated water will likely represent an increasing risk to disaster recovery and public health.

The Background Framing Paper to the consultation, titled “Wastewater Management and Water Quality,” includes several key messages. First, it argues for increased awareness on the linkages between energy and water, noting the role of water for energy production and the role of energy in water management. It further highlights multi-sectoral approaches to addressing wastewater, such as inclusion of the environment, health and livelihood sectors, and a nexus approach. The Paper calls for increased understanding of the scale and urgency of water issues within the context of climate change, urbanization and other demographic changes. It recommends the development of pollution control policies and a “shift in thinking” towards a resource recovery perspective to promote wastewater collection, treatment and reuse.

The Consultation on Wastewater Management and Water Quality is a sub-consultation under the Global Thematic Consultation on Water, which is being led by UN-HABITAT. The other two sub-consultations are “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)” and “Water Resources Management.” The Water Consultation is one of 11 consultations on key topics related to the post-2015 agenda.


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