The United Nations is marking World Water Day (WWD) 2005 with the launch of an International Decade of Action with the theme "Water for Life". By proclaiming the period 2005-2015 as the Decade of Water, the United Nations and affiliated Governments place greater international focus on water and water issues. The decade also recommits countries to achieve the water-related targets of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, as well as the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000.
One of these targets is to halve the number of people that do not have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. The nations of the world have promised to meet this goal as part of their Millennium Goals commitment, and the IAEA as one of 23 UN organisations belonging to UN-Water, which is coordinating the 'Water for Life' Decade, 2005-2015, is committed to help its Member States achieve them.
The IAEA, through its Water Resources Programme, is one of several UN agencies offering responses to global water issues, providing its Member States with science-based information and skills to better understand and manage their water resources. It's programme on isotope and nuclear-related techniques are widely recognized as effective and unique tools for obtaining information for a broad range of water resource management issues. The Agency is the lead UN agency in this area and has developed extensive global reference data and isotope reference materials, which are widely used by hydrology and water experts worldwide. It also promotes wider use of isotope hydrology for water resources development and management in developing Member States by providing technological and human resources, as well as some form of financial assistance.
Some notable water-related projects in IAEA Member States include the use of isotope hydrology to help assess groundwater resources in Ethiopia, utilizing saline groundwater productively in Pakistan and 8 other countries, and helping Morocco use isotope techniques to search for new sources of water. The IAEA is also supporting a project involving 7 Latin American (web site in Spanish) to use isotope techniques to help locate subterranean water sources. This project is expected to be completed this year.
To mark the start of the International "Water for Life" Decade, a web site is being launched that will link to related information and activities in support of the decade. These would include water-related activities and programmes in other UN agencies, including the IAEA, which belong to UN-Water. Activities for World Water Day (WWD) 2005 will be also guided by the Water for Life theme. Water-related organizations - UN agencies, NGOs, national and local water authorities - are organizing events all over the world to celebrate the occasion.(See planned WWD 2005 activities.)
"This is an urgent matter of human development, and human dignity," stated UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his message to launch the 'Water for Life' Decade. "Together, we can provide safe, clean water to all the world抯 people. The world's water resources are our lifeline for survival, and for sustainable development in the 21st century."
Meeting the targets on water and sanitation would also contribute significantly to the realization of other UN Millennium Development Goals, including reducing poverty, promoting gender equality, reducing child and maternal mortality and providing universal primary education.