UN water summit ends with global action plan

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A global action plan with a good 700 ambitious voluntary commitments is the result of the United Nations Water Summit in New York. The commitments come from governments as well as non-profit organizations and some companies. For example, 150 countries support the appointment of a U.N. special representative for water. In addition, a scientific panel on the subject will be set up.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called on countries to take action to combat the shortage of drinking water. All hope for humanity depends on charting a new course; he said, “It depends on realizing the landmark inclusive and action-oriented commitments made by Member States and others at this conference.”

The U.N. water conference has been underway since Wednesday. It was the first major U.N. meeting since 1977 to focus exclusively on water. The United Nations had sounded the alarm about a looming global water crisis, saying the water cycle had been broken, ecosystems destroyed, and groundwater contaminated. One in four billion people do not have sufficient access to clean water. And the global shortage of drinking water will continue to worsen.

Nearly 7,000 people attended, including about a dozen heads of state and government. For Austria, Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) advocated for a U.N. special envoy during his address to the General Assembly. Critics decried that some parts of the world were far better represented than others. They said many communities from the global South, particularly affected by water scarcity, were not adequately represented due to visa barriers or financial hurdles.
Still, the New York meeting was a needed wake-up call, said the World Resources Institute, which analyzed the conference. Several voluntary commitments could mark a turning point and influence the development of drinking water.

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