Hillary Rodham Clinton. Water scarcity an international community challenge.
In the United States, water represents one of the great diplomatic and development opportunities of our time. It’s not every day you find an issue where effective diplomacy and development will allow you to save millions of lives, feed the hungry, empower women, advance our national security interests, protect the environment, and demonstrate to billions of people that the United States cares, cares about you and your welfare. Water is that issue. Now, we know that this challenge is much too large for the United States – or any one nation – to address alone. Even if all of the world’s development aid were directed toward water and sanitation efforts, the resources still wouldn’t be enough to meet the needs of developing countries. So we need to work together to leverage the efforts of other nations, the international community, and partners in the nonprofits and private sectors. Today, I want to discuss five streams of action that make up our approach to water issues. –First, we need to build capacity at the local, national, and regional levels. Countries and communities must take the lead in securing their own water futures. And, particularly in areas where we have serious, committed partners, we should work to expand their ability to address water challenges. We are looking at ways to work with international partners to support the development and implementation of country-led water and sanitation plans. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is supporting countries that are committed to making needed reforms, improving governance, and taking on the tough development challenges that surround the issue of water. USAID is working at a grassroots level and with national ministries to improve governance and capacity-building. We need to strengthen regional cooperative mechanisms for managing water resources that transcend national boundaries. Now, we usually look at maps and see political units. But in order to meet the challenge presented by water security, we need to start viewing the water in terms of natural water boundaries such as watersheds, river basins, and aquifers. There are more than 260 river basins in the world that flow through different nations. We cannot address the water challenges of these countries in isolation. We should view every regional watershed or aquifer as an opportunity for stronger international cooperation. Done right, there could be huge political and economic benefits from regional water diplomacy. The Nile River basin, for example, is home to 180 million people spread throughout ten East African countries. Many of these nations are mired in poverty, and seven of them have experienced recent conflicts.. We are also looking to take advantage of regional platforms, such as the African Ministers Council on Water and the soon-to-be-established Center of Excellence on Water in the Middle East. We hope these programs will serve as hubs for connecting local countries to each other, and also to universities, laboratories, and research groups worldwide that share an interest in water issues. Now, of course, the National Geographic is ahead of all of us, as always, with this wonderful special issue on Water: Our Thirsty World. –Second, we need to elevate our diplomatic efforts and we need to better coordinate them. More than 24 UN agencies and other intergovernmental bodies are engaged on water issues. And multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and other international financial institutions have acquired deep experience working on water challenges. But the work of these bodies has often suffered from a lack of coordination and high-level attention. The joint G8-Africa Leader’s Statement on Water at the last G8 Summit in L’Aquila sent a message that water issues are a priority for the international community. And we are committed to following through on that by elevating water issues within intergovernmental organizations, the international financial institutions, and other regional and global bodies. Water is actually a test case for preventive diplomacy. Historically, many long-term global challenges – including water – have been left to fester for years until they grew so serious that they could no longer be ignored. If we can rally the world to address the water issue now, we can take early corrective action, and get ahead of the challenges that await us. And in doing so, we can establish a positive precedent for early action to address other serious issues of global concern. –The third element of our water strategy is mobilizing financial support. Managing water issues requires resources. And in some cases, the United States will be able to provide assistance. We’ve seen how relatively small grants can have a vast impact on water security. Ten years ago in Ecuador, USAID began several years of technical assistance to support the establishment of a water trust fund for the future protection of Quito’s watershed. Today, thanks to the work of many partners, that fund has grown to $6 million; it provides $800,000 a year for conservation efforts. For the American people – and for the people of Ecuador – that represents a spectacular return on our investment. Other U.S. grants are targeted to support hygiene and sanitation projects or water quality improvements that involve small-scale hardware such as household water purification technology.. In some instances, we are also providing assistance for larger infrastructure projects as well. In Jordan, USAID has helped build a desalination plant, a wastewater treatment facility, and water supply and sanitation systems that serve more than two million people. We are backing similar large-scale projects in several countries that are receiving assistance through the Millennium Challenge Corporation. MCC-supported water programs are improving irrigation systems, rebuilding critical infrastructure, and increasing access to clean water and sanitation. But we hope that these projects will send a message to governments in developing countries that if they adopt sound policies and serious reforms, the United States will help them deliver sustainable water solutions that benefit their people. And a government’s success in providing water and sanitation services is a leading indicator of its determination to deliver other vital services. The United States is also working to strengthen capital markets and provide credit enhancements with the goal of mobilizing resources inside developing countries. As a result, we’ve been able to mobilize local capital to help solve water issues. In some cases, they have leveraged U.S. funds at twenty-to-one ratios. –Fourth, we must harness the power of science and technology. There are a number of areas where science and technological innovation can make a huge impact, and U.S. Government agencies are on the cutting edge of many global efforts to assess and address water challenges. Researchers working in U.S. agencies have discovered better techniques for disinfecting and storing drinking water, for predicting floods and droughts, and for improving the productivity of water for food and economic growth. We have also seen progress on new technologies for waste water treatment, desalinization, and the use of global information systems. We need to work harder to share this knowledge with the rest of the world. For that reason, we are taking a whole-of-government approach to this issue. One example is a joint USAID-NASA initiative to create an earth observation monitoring and visualization system in the Himalayas. The glaciers in that mountain range serve as the water tower of Asia, providing the water supply for more than 1.3 billion people. In cooperation with nearby countries, USAID and NASA are developing a system that will provide a clearer picture of water supply and demand for the region and facilitate efforts to adapt to climate change. Just as we are reaching out across the U.S. Government to help deal with these challenges, we also need to leverage the full-range of our relationships beyond government. That’s why the final aspect of our water efforts is broadening the scope of our partnerships. By focusing on our strengths and leveraging our efforts against the work of others, we can deliver results that are greater than the sum of the parts. NGOs and nonprofits, already play a vital role as implementers and advocates. Private philanthropic organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and Rotary International, are also increasingly engaged on water and sanitation as well. –The private sector is another area where we need to build stronger partnerships. Some companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have core business interests that are related to water issues and a history of working to improve water standards and efficiency. But even in industries that seem disconnected from water, a focus on the issues can have a significant impact. For example, Intel conserved over three billion gallons of water last year and more than 30 billion gallons worldwide over the last decade. We want to identify strategic opportunities for working with private firms, and bring their technical skills and capital to bear in addressing the challenges facing the water sector. At the State Department, we are going to elevate water issues within our Global Partnership Initiatives, and on March 23rd, which is tomorrow, we will be holding the first of what I expect will be many meetings with corporations and foundations to examine how better to address water challenges through public-private partnerships and work together toward long-term collaboration. –Now, channelling these five streams of action into a mighty river that runs across our entire diplomatic and development agenda will not be easy. But fortunately, we have the right team for the job. I’ve asked Under Secretary Otero and USAID Administrator Raj Shah to lead our work on this issue. But they will work to ensure that we take a comprehensive approach. Regardless of whether we’re working on watershed management, efficiency, production, or sanitation, we need to look at this challenge holistically. Maria and Raj will be responsible for keeping the big picture in mind. So as we move forward, they will help us identify what’s working, and what’s not. They’ll help us invest in those approaches that are delivering sustainable, measurable results. And they’ll also enable us to keep a long-term perspective on this challenge. We need to make sure that the work we do on water issues is not just of the moment, but truly does stand the test of time. As we face this challenge, one thing that will endure is the United States’ commitment to water issues. We are in this for the long haul. I am convinced that if we empower communities and countries to meet their own challenges, expand our diplomatic efforts, make sound investments, foster innovation, and build effective partnerships, we can make real progress together and seize this historic opportunity.
Hillary Rodham Clinton. La falta de agua un desafío a la comunidad internacional. National Geographic Society, Washington, DC. Día Mundial del Agua. 22/03/ 2010. Secretary Clinton: March 2010 » World Water Day US Department of State
En los Estados Unidos, el agua representa una de las grandes oportunidades diplomáticas y de desarrollo de nuestro tiempo. No todos los días se encuentra un tema donde la diplomacia efectiva y el desarrollo te permitirá salvar millones de vidas, alimentar al hambriento, empoderar a las mujeres, promover nuestros intereses de seguridad nacional, proteger el medio ambiente, y demostrar a los miles de millones de personas que Estados Unidos se preocupa , se preocupa por usted y su bienestar. El agua es la cuestión. Ahora, sabemos que este reto es demasiado grande para los Estados Unidos – o cualquier nación – para hacer frente sola. Incluso si toda la ayuda al desarrollo en el mundo se dirige hacia los esfuerzos de agua y saneamiento, los recursos aún no serían suficientes para satisfacer las necesidades de los países en desarrollo. Así que tenemos que trabajar juntos para aprovechar los esfuerzos de otras naciones, la comunidad internacional, y los asociados en las organizaciones no lucrativas y el sector privado. Hoy, quiero hablar de cinco corrientes de acción que conforman nuestro enfoque de los problemas del agua. –En primer lugar, se tiene que fortalecer la capacidad en los niveles locales, nacionales y regionales. Los países y las comunidades deben tomar la iniciativa para asegurar su propio futuro de agua. Sobre todo en las zonas donde tenemos socios serios y comprometidos, debemos trabajar