30 May to 1 June 2007
His Royal Highness, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Chair of United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) opened the Asian Dialogue on Water and Sanitation at the Taihu Basin Authority at 9:00 am today. His co-hosts included H.E. Mr. Chen Lei, Minister or Water Resources, the P.R.C and Ms. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank.
Asia faces major challenges in providing drinking water and sanitation services with 667 million lacking safe access to drinking water and the majority of the world's 2.6 billion without access to basic sanitation living within this continent. Asia's economic growth will be constrained if these challenges remain unmet. The Asian Dialogue tackled these challenges and discussed viable solutions and joint actions.
How the International Year of Sanitation in 2008 can harness political will, to increase attention and action on providing sanitation services in Asia, was a centerpiece of the Dialogue. Participants stressed the need for frank dialogue on how the lack of sanitation services for poor people, constrains development, impacts human health, and degrades ecosystems.
The Dialogue participants also endorsed an Asia-Pacific Water Summit in December 2007 in Japan which will gather top-level decision-makers to further catalyze political will. Increasing financing and capacity development for drinking water and sanitation, disaster preparedness & avoidance and integrated water resource management plans were also discussed. Participants also focused how UNSGAB's "Hashimoto Action Plan," a global work plan coordinating actions on water and sanitation, could be applied to advancing progress in Asia.
The UNSGAB will sign a joint statement with ADB on June 1 committing both organizations to actions aimed at ensuring Asia meets the Millennium Development Goal targets for water and sanitation.
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