UN appoints Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina in high-level panel on water comprising 10 world leaders

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced on Thursday the appointment of 10 Heads of State and Government, as well as two Special Advisors, to the Panel, according to the UN headquarters.

The panel, which is aimed at mobilising “effective action” to accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6, was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos last January.

The SDG6 focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

President of Mauritius (Co-Chair) Ameenah Gurib, President of Mexico (Co-Chair) Enrique Peña Nieto, Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, President of Hungary János Áder, and Prime Minister of Jordan Abdullah Ensour are the other members of the panel.

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, President of Senegal Macky Sall, and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon are also members.

Former Prime Minister of South Korea Han Seung-soo, and Minister of State for the Environment of Peru Manuel Pulgar-Vidal are the two special advisers.

“Ensuring water and sanitation for all is crucial for reducing poverty and achieving other Sustainable Development Goals,” said Ban in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

In his statement, he urged all partners to rally behind SDG 6 with political, financial and technological support.

Today, more than 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation and at least 663 million do not have access to safe drinking water.

Poor sanitation, water, and hygiene lead to about 675,000 premature deaths annually, and an estimated annual economic loss of up to seven per cent of GDP in some countries, according to the UN.

Take bold steps to solve water problem

Meanwhile, foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali spoke on behalf of the prime minister at the high-level panel in New York on Thursday.

He highlighted four points, saying it was time for “bold thinking and action” regarding water.

“Water is one area where climate-vulnerable countries, including LDCs are most intensely challenged.

“In moving forward, the Panel would need to articulate a common set of actions that also take into account diversity in countries – their differentiated needs and circumstances.

Secondly, he said, it was important to strike an “optimal balance” between public and non-public support measures.

It was important to “ensure ensure that the solutions are accessible and affordable to the people at the bottom”.

Thirdly, the minister pointed out on the prime minister’s behalf that “water may exacerbate inequality” along the path to “rapid urbanization or, planned industrialization or, resilient agriculture”.

“The dichotomies in terms of protection, conservation and balanced utilization of common water resources need to be effectively addressed in policy or programmatic choices”.

Fourthly, he stressed “effective and sustainable solutions towards ensuring water security”, and the development of crucial “adaptive water-resilient technologies”.

“We need to consider helping the manufacturing sectors in the LDCs develop their productive capacities vis-à-vis water use efficiency,” he said.