Press Releases

17 March 2005

Major Efforts Needed to Better Manage World’s Water – “Our Lifeline For Survival” in 21st Century, Says Secretary-General in World Day Message

NEW YORK, 16 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message for World Water Day, observed 22 March:

Water is essential for life.  Yet many millions of people around the world face water shortages.  Many millions of children die every year from water-borne diseases.  And drought regularly afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries.

The world needs to respond much better.  We need to increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture.  We need to free women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great distances.  We must involve them in decision-making on water management.  We need to make sanitation a priority.  This is where progress is lagging most.  And we must show that water resources need not be a source of conflict.  Instead, they can be a catalyst for cooperation.

Significant gains have been made.  But a major effort is still required.  That is why this year, World Water Day also marks the beginning of the “Water for Life” Decade.  Our goal is to meet the internationally agreed targets for water and sanitation by 2015, and to build the foundation for further progress in the years beyond.

This is an urgent matter of human development, and human dignity.  On this World Water Day, let us resolve to do more to provide safe, clean water to all the world’s people.  Let us also reaffirm our commitment to better management of the world’s water resources, which are our lifeline for survival, and for sustainable development in the 21st century.

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