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Intergovernmental Decisions

UN Commission on Sustainable Development
13th Session
New York, 11-22 April 2005

Report on the Thirteenth Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (Advance unedited text)

A. Water
Access to basic water services

(a) Sustain and accelerate progress toward the water access goal, supported by increased resources from all sources, including ODA, in response to countries’ needs, with a focus on the following actions:

  1. Prioritizing water in national development plans and facilitating access to water for all;
  2. Strengthening capacities of national and local authorities in resource allocation and management, quality control, development and implementation of water supply projects, and monitoring of service provision;
  3. Promoting support for water infrastructure planning and development;
  4. Involving all stakeholders, particularly women and youth, in the planning and management of water services and, as appropriate, decision- making processes;
  5. Instituting economic incentives to encourage the participation of small-scale water service providers;
  6. Employing the full range of policy instruments, including regulation, voluntary measures, market and information-based tools and cost recovery of water services that contribute to the sustainability of services provision, without cost recovery objectives becoming a barrier to access to safe water by poor people;
  7. Targeting subsidies for the poor, including connection costs;

(b) Develop and strengthen human and institutional capacities for effective water management and service delivery, through:

  1. Building capacities of local communities in operation and maintenance of water systems, and training educators, managers and technicians in different aspects of water management;
  2. Tapping local and indigenous knowledge in project development and implementation;
  3. Promoting and strengthening commercial capacities of local suppliers;
  4. Improving monitoring and analytical capabilities of water information management agencies;

(c) Develop and transfer low-cost technologies for safe water supply and treatment, in accordance with countries’ needs, with a focus on the following:

  1. Promoting access to appropriate low-cost and environmentally sustainable water use and supply technologies through North-South and South-South cooperation and partnerships;
  2. Developing capacities in the area of water desalination, treatment of contaminants, rainwater harvesting and water efficiency through technology transfer and sharing of best practices;
  3. Investing in research and development projects;
  4. Addressing the special needs of countries with arid and semi-arid areas due to water scarcity;
Integrated water resources management (IWRM)

(d) Recognizing that the 2005 target on IWRM may not be met by all countries, accelerate the provision of technical and financial assistance to countries in preparing nationally-owned IWRM and water-efficiency plans tailored to country-specific needs, paying particular attention to economic development, social and environmental needs, supporting implementation through learning-by-doing, directed, inter alia, towards the following:

  1. Improving water governance through strengthening of institutional and regulatory reforms, capacity development and innovation;
  2. Providing technical and management support to local authorities and community based organizations, taking into account research, traditional knowledge and best practices, to improve water resources management within national policy frameworks;
  3. Providing additional resources, as appropriate, for regional and sub-regional initiatives, such as the African Water Facility;
  4. Encouraging effective coordination among all stakeholders in water-related decision making;
  5. Enhancing the sustainability of ecosystems that provide essential resources and services for human well being and economic activity in water-related decision making;
  6. Facilitating information exchange and knowledge sharing, including indigenous and local knowledge;
  7. Strengthening the prevention of pollution resulting from wastewater, solid waste, industrial and agricultural activities;
  8. Developing preventive and preparedness measures, as well as risk mitigation and disaster reduction, including early warning systems;
  9. Protecting and rehabilitating catchment areas for regulating water flows and improving water quality, taking into account the critical role of ecosystems;
  10. Raising awareness of the importance of water use efficiency and conservation;
  11. Involving all stakeholders, including women, youth and local communities, in integrated planning and management of land and water resources;
  12. Encouraging, where appropriate and within their mandates, the use of MEAs to leverage additional resources for IWRM;
  13. Promoting higher priority and greater action on water quality;

(e) Support African initiatives in the area of water, within the framework of AMCOW, with particular reference to basin-wide initiatives in Africa;

(f) Enhance cooperation among riparian States through relevant arrangements and/or mechanisms with the consent of the States concerned, taking into account the interests of the riparian States;

(g) Develop and strengthen national monitoring systems on the quantity, quality and use of surface and groundwater resources at national and local levels, and for measuring progress towards internationally agreed goals and targets, as appropriate, as well as for assessing the impact of climate variability and change on water resources, through the following actions:

  1. Establishing and managing water information systems;
  2. Installing networks for monitoring water resources and quality;
  3. Standardizing methodologies and developing monitoring indicators;
  4. Transferring monitoring technologies adaptable to local conditions;
  5. Disseminating information to relevant stakeholders.

(h) Support more effective water demand and water resource management across all sectors, especially in the agricultural sector, by:

  1. Using efficient irrigation and rain water harvesting technologies;
  2. Implementing irrigation projects with a focus on the poor, particularly in Africa;
  3. Training farmers and water user associations in efficient water use and sustainable agricultural land management;
  4. Promoting the use of waste-water for certain irrigation purposes, subject to health and environmental standards;
  5. Increasing the efficiency, and where appropriate, the use of rain- fed agriculture.
Follow-up on Water and Sanitation

(cc) Requests the UN-Water to give equal consideration to the CSD-13 thematic issues of sanitation and water in its terms of reference, and to promote, within its mandate, system-wide interagency cooperation and coordination among relevant UN agencies, funds and programs on these issues, and requests the Secretary General to include in his report to the CSD the activities of UN Water as they relate to the aforementioned thematic areas, including the roles and responsibilities of relevant UN agencies, funds and programs in implementing and monitoring the water and sanitation agenda, including identifying duplication, overlap and gaps;

4. Without prejudice to the programme, organization and methods of work of the Commission adopted at its eleventh session, decides to devote, in 2008 and 2012, a separate segment at the end of its review sessions, for a duration to be determined by the Bureau in advance, using one to two days as a benchmark, to monitor and follow-up the implementation of decisions on water and sanitation, and their inter- linkages, taken at CSD-13;


UN Commission on Sustainable Development
6th Session
New York, 22 December & 20 April to 1 May 1998

Report on the Sixth Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (E/1998/2, E/CN.17/1998/20)

Decision 6/1. Strategic approaches to freshwater management **
  1. The Commission on Sustainable Development, having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on strategic approaches to freshwater management 3/ and on the activities of the organizations of the United Nations system in the field of freshwater resources, 4/ welcomes the report of the Inter-sessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management 5/ and the report of the Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management, held at Harare from 27 to 30 January 1998, 6/ and takes note of the outcome of the International Dialogue Forum on Global Water Politics, Cooperation for Transboundary Water Management, convened by the Government of Germany at Petersberg, near Bonn, from 3 to 5 March 1998 7/ and of the International Conference on Water and Sustainable Development, convened by the Government of France in Paris from 19 to 21 March 1998. 8/
  2. The objectives of sustainable development and the links among its three components -- economic and social development and environmental protection -- were clearly articulated in Agenda 21 9/ and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. 10/ The specific decisions and policy recommendations concerning the application of integrated approaches to the development, management, use and protection of freshwater resources as elaborated in chapter 18 of Agenda 21 and the seven key areas contained in that chapter continue to be a fundamental basis for action and shall be implemented in accordance with the specific characteristics of each country.
  3. In this regard, the Commission reaffirms that water resources are essential for satisfying basic human needs, health and food production, energy, and the restoration and maintenance of ecosystems, and for social and economic development in general. Agriculture accounts for a major part of global freshwater use. It is imperative that freshwater resources development, use, management and protection be planned in an integrated manner, taking into account both short- and long-term needs. Consequently, the priority to be accorded to the social dimension of freshwater management is of fundamental importance. This should be reflected in an integrated approach to freshwater in order to be coherent, aimed at achieving truly people-centred sustainable development in accordance with their local conditions. It is important that consideration of equitable and responsible use of water become an integral part in the formulation of strategic approaches to integrated water management at all levels, in particular in addressing the problems of people living in poverty. The development, management, protection and use of water so as to contribute to the eradication of poverty and the promotion of food security is an exceptionally important goal. The role of groundwater; rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands; estuaries and the sea; and forests, other vegetation and other parts of their ecosystems in the water cycle and their importance to water quality and quantity should be acknowledged and protected. Another set of crucial issues relates to the links between water quality, sanitation and protection of human health.
  4. Since 1992, marked improvements in water quality have occurred in a number of river basins and groundwater aquifers where pressures for action have been strong. However, overall progress has been neither sufficient nor comprehensive enough to reduce general trends of increasing water shortages, deteriorating water quality and growing stress on freshwater ecosystems and on the natural hydrological cycle. Water must not become a limiting factor for sustainable development and human welfare. A series of potential water-related problems can be averted if appropriate action is taken now towards an integrated approach to the efficient use, development, management, protection and use of freshwater resources.
  5. Competition for limited freshwater increasingly occurs between agricultural, rural, urban, industrial and environmental uses. In adopting the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, 11/ in particular its paragraph 34, the General Assembly recognized the importance of taking into account, while dealing with freshwater development and management, the differing level of socio-economic development prevalent in developing countries. The Assembly recognized, inter alia, the urgent need to formulate and implement national policies of integrated watershed management in a fully participatory manner aimed at achieving and integrating economic, social and environmental objectives of sustainable development. In addition to agreeing to those strategic principles, the Assembly also recognized the urgent need to strengthen international cooperation to support local, national and regional action, in particular in the fields of environment and development, safe water supply and sanitation, food security and agricultural production, energy, flood and drought management, and recycling, through efforts in such areas as information exchange, capacity-building, technology transfer and financing.
  6. The process called for in the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 should focus on fostering and supporting national, regional and international action in those areas where goals and objectives have been defined; on the identification of existing gaps and emerging issues; on the development of education and learning systems and also on building global consensus where further understanding is required; and on promoting greater coordination in approaches by the United Nations and relevant international institutions, particularly in support of national implementation policies and development.
  7. The implementation of integrated water resources development, management, protection and use requires action at all levels, with the technical and financial support of the international community. Those actions should be closely related to other areas of natural resources management, including biodiversity, the coastal zone, agriculture, land, forestry and mountain development. Effective integrated water resources management should incorporate approaches dealing with river basins, watershed management and ecosystem maintenance, where decision-making needs to be supported by education.
  8. There is a need to put in place local and national management plans to bring about productive and sustainable interactions between human activities and the ecological functioning of freshwater systems based on the natural hydrological cycle, with the technical and financial support of the international community. Such plans need to minimize the adverse impacts of human activities on wetlands and coastal areas, estuarine and marine environments, and in mountainous areas, and to reduce potential losses from droughts and floods, erosion, desertification and natural disasters. Furthermore, sanitation, pollution prevention, proliferation of aquatic weeds, especially water hyacinth, and the treatment and recycling of waste water need to be addressed.
  9. Local integrated water management plans require detailed assessment of water resources requirements, including the exact nature of the demands and an estimate of the catchment yield. In this regard, there is a need to reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and to promote appropriate demographic policies.
  10. The Commission therefore:
    1. Urges Governments, with the technical and financial support of the international community, where appropriate, to address the numerous gaps identified in the path towards integrated water resources development management, protection and use. Areas that require further attention include (i) meeting basic health education needs and raising awareness of the scope and function of surface and groundwater resources; (ii) the need for human resources development and participatory approaches, notably including women and local communities and integrating freshwater issues into local Agenda 21 processes; (iii) the role of ecosystems in the provision of goods and services; (iv) balancing structural and non-structural approaches; (v) explicit linkages with socio-economic development, for equitable utilization and efficient freshwater allocation and use; (vi) improved sanitation and waste-water treatment and recycling; (vii) conserving the biological diversity of freshwater ecosystems; (viii) conservation and sustainable use of wetlands; (ix) the understanding of hydrology and the capacity to assess the availability and variability of water resources; (x) mobilization of financial resources and mainstreaming of gender issues into all aspects of water resources management; and (xi) wasteful water usage. Strategic and integrated actions are still needed in order to adapt to ever-changing social and environmental circumstances and to address fundamental concerns for combating poverty, ensuring adequate provision of public health, food security and energy, and to protect the environment better. International cooperation and action needs to address effectively the above issues, building on existing consensus for the successful implementation of integrated water resources development, management, protection and use;
    2. Encourages riparian States to cooperate on matters related to international watercourses, whether transboundary or boundary, taking into account appropriate arrangements and/or mechanisms and the interests of all riparian States concerned, relevant to effective development, management, protection and use of water resources;
    3. Encourages riparian States, on the basis of mutual agreement and the common interest of all riparian States concerned, to establish, where appropriate, organizations at the river basin level for the implementation of water management programmes. Within its existing guidelines, the Global Environment Facility is invited to consider supporting such developments as part of its international water portfolio. All these actions should be complemented by activities to support effective national water policies and strategies in the developing countries affected by desertification and drought, particularly those in Africa;
    4. Encourages Governments, at the appropriate level, in accordance with the specific characteristics of each country, to formulate and publish the main goals, long- and short-term objectives and general principles of water policies and implement them by means of comprehensive programmes. The implementation of local or national programmes should form an important part of the local Agenda 21 approach;
    5. Encourages Governments, at the appropriate level, while formulating integrated water resources management policies and programmes to implement relevant conventions in force. In particular, the relevant conventions on biological diversity, desertification, climate change, and wetlands and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora need to be considered. In addition, consideration should be given, as appropriate, to relevant recommendations and/or programmes of action emanating from a number of major international conferences and events. 12/ Furthermore, in formulating such policies, the Commission invites Governments to address the need for achieving universal access to water supply and sanitation, with poverty eradication being one of the objectives, taking into account, in particular, chapter 18 of Agenda 21 and relevant recommendations of conferences and events;
    6. Recognizes that expert meetings as well as international conferences provided useful information and valuable inputs for intergovernmental deliberations and negotiations at the sixth session of the Commission, and the importance of more such meetings being held in developing countries. Invites Governments to consider, as appropriate, the key recommendations stemming from the report of the Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management, held at Harare, and the outcome of the International Conference on Water and Sustainable Development, held in Paris.
A. Information and data for decision-making
  1. Information and data are key elements for assisting in the management and use of water resources and in the protection of the environment. All States, according to their capacity and available resources, are encouraged to collect, store, process and analyse water-related data in a transparent manner and to make such data and forecasts publicly available in the framework of a participatory approach. Because women have a particular role in utilizing and conserving water resources on a daily basis, their knowledge and experience should be considered as a component of any sustainable water management programme.
  2. The Commission therefore:
    1. Encourages Governments to establish and maintain effective information and monitoring networks and further promote the exchange and dissemination of information relevant for policy formulation, planning, investment and operational decisions, including data collected based on gender differences, where appropriate, regarding both surface water and groundwater, and quantity, quality and uses, as well as related ecosystems, and to harmonize data collection at the local catchment and the basin/aquifer levels. Information concerning all relevant factors affecting demand is also essential;
    2. Stresses that effective management of water resources demands that attention be paid to essential activities, all of which require fundamental knowledge about water resources as well as information about water quality, quantity and uses, including (i) water resources planning and watershed management at local and national levels; (ii) regulatory activities; (iii) investments in infrastructure and technologies for remedying and preventing pollution; and (iv) education and training;
    3. Encourages Governments to facilitate the collection and dissemination of water data and documentation that enhances public awareness of important water-related issues, to improve the understanding of meteorology and processes related to water quantity and quality and the functioning of ecosystems, and to strengthen relevant information systems for forecasting and managing uncertainty regarding water resources. Such efforts on the part of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, require support from the international community;

      (d) Encourages Governments to design programmes aimed at increasing public awareness on the need to conserve, protect and use water sustainably and allow local communities to participate in monitoring of water-related indicators. This information should then be made available for community participation in decision-making;
    4. Also encourages Governments, taking into account their financial and human resources, to develop and implement national and local water-related indicators of progress in achieving integrated water resources management, including water quality and quantity objectives, taking into account ongoing work of the Commission on indicators of sustainable development. In addition, in accordance with their policies, priorities and resources, Governments may find it useful to carry out national water quality and quantity inventories for surface water and groundwater, including the identification of gaps in available information;
    5. Invites Governments to establish or strengthen mechanisms for consultations on drought and flood preparedness and early warning systems and mitigation plans at all appropriate levels. Governments are encouraged to consider the establishment of rapid intervention systems to ensure that individuals and communities can be assisted in recovering from damage that they suffer from such extreme events. At the international level, in particular, there is the need to maintain support of these activities at the conclusion of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction;
    6. Calls upon the international community, including the United Nations system, to support national efforts in information and data collection and dissemination through coordinated and differentiated action. In particular in their respective fields, United Nations agencies and programmes and other international bodies should support Governments in the development and coordination of relevant data and information networks at the appropriate level, carry out periodic global assessments and analyses of water resources availability (both quality and quantity) and changes in demand, assist in identifying water-related problems and environmental issues, and promote the broadest exchange and dissemination of relevant information, in particular to developing countries. Encourages access to, and exchange of, information in user-friendly formats based on terminology easily understood.
B. Institutions, capacity-building and participation
  1. The Commission on Sustainable Development:
    1. Urges Governments to establish national coordination mechanisms across all sectors, as already envisaged in the Mar del Plata Action Plan, 13/ providing for contributions from government and public authorities and the participation of civil society, including communities affected, in the formulation and implementation of integrated water resources development and management plans and policies. Such mechanisms should also provide for participation by communities and water users. This involves the participation at the appropriate levels, of water users and the public in planning, implementing and evaluating water resources activities. It is particularly important to broaden women's participation and integrate gender analysis in water planning;
    2. Invites Governments to take the necessary steps to establish legislative and regulatory frameworks -- and to improve such frameworks where they exist -- to facilitate integrated water resources management and strategies, including both demand and supply management as well as the links with the management of land use, taking into account the need to build capacity to apply and enforce such frameworks. Each Government needs to define its relevant functions and distinguish between those related to standards, regulation-setting and control, on the one hand, and the direct management and provision of services, on the other;
    3. Encourages Governments to consider how best to devolve responsibilities to the lowest appropriate level for the organization and management of public water supply, sanitation services and irrigation systems, as well as water resources management within the framework of national water policies;
    4. Urges Governments to strengthen institutional and human capacities at the national, subnational and local levels, in view of the complexity of implementing integrated water resources development and management strategies, particularly in large urban settlements. This could be done through local Agenda 21 processes, where they exist. Effective water resources development, management and protection requires appropriate tools for educating and training water management staff and water users at all levels and for ensuring that women, youth, indigenous people and local communities have equal access to education and training programmes. Design of these programmes should be done in cooperation with stakeholders;
    5. Encourages Governments to establish an enabling environment to facilitate partnerships between the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations, aiming towards improved local capacity to protect water resources, through educational programmes and public access to information. At the global level, appropriate existing mechanisms can provide a universal forum for debate and the development of ideas. The pivotal role of women should be reflected in institutional arrangements for the development, management, protection and use of water resources. There is a need to strengthen the role of women, who should have an equal voice with regard to water resources development, management, protection and use and in the sharing of benefits;
    6. Encourages public authorities, public and private companies and non-governmental organizations dealing with the formulation, arrangement and financing of water resources programmes to engage in a dialogue with users. This dialogue requires the sharing of information with interested parties regarding the sustainable use of water and relationships with land use, public access to information and data, and discussions on objectives and implementation modalities, in accordance with the national legislation of each country;
    7. Calls upon the international community, in particular the organizations of the United Nations system, especially the United Nations Development Programme, to strengthen capacity-building programmes, taking into account the special needs of developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, and the specific circumstances of small island developing States, in areas such as training, institutional development and the participation of women, youth, indigenous people and local communities in support of national efforts in this field.
C. Technology transfer and research cooperation
  1. The Commission on Sustainable Development:
    1. Encourages Governments to remove impediments to and stimulate research and development cooperation, together with the development of technologies for sustainable water management and use, and to increase efficiency, reduce pollution and proliferation of aquatic weeds, especially water hyacinths, and promote sustainable agriculture and food production systems. This also applies in the areas of desalination, brackish water treatment, waste-water treatment, management of wetlands, drainage water reuse, improving the chemical quality of groundwater, including the treatment of arsenic and other harmful heavy metals, and desert dew catchment, and in the use of remote sensing techniques and other relevant modern technologies in order to help increase the supplies of freshwater. All this involves the adaptation and diffusion of new and innovative techniques and technologies, both private and public, and the transfer of technologies to developing countries. In this context, the Commission urges developed countries to strengthen research cooperation and to promote, facilitate and finance, as appropriate, the access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and the corresponding know-how to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed, taking into account the need to protect intellectual property rights, as well as the special needs of developing countries or the implementation of Agenda 21;
    2. Urges Governments, industry and international organizations to promote technology transfer and research cooperation to foster sustainable agricultural practices that promote efficient water use and reduce pollution of surface water and groundwater. These technologies should include the improvement of crops grown on marginal sites, erosion control practices and the adaptation of farming systems. They should also improve water use efficiency in irrigated areas and improve the adaptation and productivity of drought-tolerant crop species. Farmer participation in farm research, irrigation projects and watershed management should be encouraged. Research results and technologies should be available to both small and large producers;
    3. Urges Governments to promote innovative approaches to technology cooperation projects involving partnerships between the public and private sectors within an effective framework of regulation and supervision;
    4. Calls upon all relevant parties to develop and implement best practices and appropriate technologies, taking into account the local conditions, in the area of water development, management, protection and use. Codes of conduct, guidelines and other voluntary agreements can enhance the positive role that industry and agriculture can play and should cover the activities of companies operating and investing outside their home countries;
    5. Encourages Governments to make the best use of national, regional and international environmentally appropriate technology centres. The use of local and traditional technology and knowledge should be promoted and South/South cooperation encouraged;
    6. Encourages Governments to develop programmes linked to education, especially those relating to water and land management. Water and land users and managers alike need to become more aware of the need to control wastage and factors affecting demand and supply, to realize the scarcity value of water, water-borne diseases and pollution, soil erosion and deterioration, sedimentation and environmental protection;
    7. Urges donor countries and international organizations to intensify their efforts and to accelerate their technical assistance programmes to developing countries, aimed at facilitating the transfer and diffusion of appropriate technologies. The United Nations system, as well as regional groupings, have an important role to play in facilitating the contact between those in need of assistance and those able to provide it. Less formal arrangements may also have a role to play.
D. Financial resources and mechanisms
  1. The Commission reaffirms that, as stated in the Programme of Action for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the current intergovernmental process on freshwater resources can only be fully fruitful if there is a proved commitment by the international community for the provision of new and additional financial resources to developing countries, in particular to the least developed countries, for the goals of this initiative. Such financial resources, from all sources, need to be mobilized for the development, management, protection and use of freshwater resources if the broader aims of sustainable development are to be realized, particularly in relation to poverty eradication. The effective and efficient use of resources currently allocated to the freshwater sector is also important and could contribute in helping to increase financial flows from both the public and the private sector.
  2. Official development assistance should be provided for and complement, inter alia, programmes and frameworks for promoting integrated water resources development, management, protection and use that (a) meet basic needs; (b) safeguard public health; (c) promote sustainable development and conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems; and (d) build capacity. Donors, including multilateral donor institutions, should be ready to continue, or even reinforce, the support for programmes and projects in the water sector that will contribute to eradicating poverty. In this context, the Commission recalls that all financial commitments of Agenda 21, particularly those contained in chapter 33, and the provisions with regard to new and additional resources that are both adequate and predictable need to be urgently fulfilled. Projects supported by donors should, where appropriate and possible, become financially self-sustaining. Donors should also continue to support the freshwater issues that are related to desertification, loss of biodiversity, loss of wetlands, drought, floods and climate change.
  3. The private sector represents one of the growing sources of investment in the water sector. Local and national water management systems should be designed in ways that encourage public and private partnerships. It is important to ensure that water management systems are organized so that they will be sustainable and, once established, can support themselves. It is important to encourage the participation of the private sector within the framework of appropriate national policies. The adoption of enabling financial frameworks contributes to promoting the mobilization of private sector finance. Official development assistance has an important role in assisting developing countries to adopt appropriate policy frameworks for water resources management.
  4. For developing countries, the role of government regulation in the allocation of freshwater resources remains important. Resources should be allocated and costs met in an accountable and transparent manner. Costs should be covered either through cost recovery or from public sector budgets. Cost recovery could be gradually phased in by water utilities or the public authorities, taking into account the specific conditions of each country. Transparent subsidies for specific groups, particularly people living in poverty, are required in some countries. Governments could benefit from sharing experience in this regard. Incentives may be necessary to promote land use practices appropriate to local conditions in order to protect or rehabilitate freshwater resources of particularly sensitive areas, such as mountainous regions and other fragile ecosystems.
  5. The Commission on Sustainable Development:
    1. Invites Governments to strengthen consultative mechanisms between bilateral and multilateral donors and recipient States aimed at improving or preparing schemes for the mobilization of financial resources in a predictable manner, for meeting the need of priority areas based on local and national programmes of action, with a special focus on integrated water resources development, management, protection and use, while recognizing the needs of vulnerable groups and people living in poverty;
    2. Calls for initiatives to be undertaken to help identify and mobilize more resources -- human, technical (know-how) and financial -- and take into account the 20/20 initiative, especially in the programme of poverty eradication, in accordance with national policies and in the light of specific provisions and commitments on resources related to water issues made at recent United Nations conferences. 14/ A fundamental aim must be to promote the generation of the resources needed for economically and environmentally sound water supply and recycling, irrigation, energy, sanitation and water management systems, including the control of aquatic weeds, especially water hyacinths, and their efficient and effective deployment;
    3. Invites Governments to allocate sufficient public financial resources for the provision of safe and sustainable water supply and sanitation to meet basic human needs and for waste-water treatment. These resources should be complementary to the technical and financial support of the international community;
    4. Urges Governments, when using economic instruments for guiding the allocation of water, to take into particular account the needs of vulnerable groups, children, local communities and people living in poverty, as well as environmental requirements, efficiency, transparency, equity and, in the light of the specific conditions of each country, at the national and local levels, the polluter-pays principle. Such instruments need to recognize the special role of women in relation to water in many societies;
    5. Urges Governments to initiate a review of existing financial support arrangements in order to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. Such a review should aim at the mobilization of financial resources from all sources, particularly international financial resources, in a predictable manner, based on local and national action plans, with a specific focus on integrated water resources development, management, use and protection programmes and policies. In this context, both formal and informal arrangements could have a role to play. International financial support will continue to be important to the development of local and national water management systems. Governments, with the technical and financial support of the international community, need to promote the economic, social and environmental values provided by ecosystems and examine the short- and long-term cost of their degradation;
    6. Calls upon the international community to intensify its efforts and to consider new initiatives, within appropriate existing mechanisms, for mobilizing financial resources to promote efforts of developing countries in the integrated management, development, distribution, protection and use of water resources. Particular attention should be given to the following aspects:
      1. Promoting more effective donor coordination and more effective and creative use of existing resources;

      2. Generation of new and additional financial resources from all sources;

      3. Identification of appropriate sources of direct grants and loans on concessional terms;

      4. Quantification of the resources required to meet the needs of developing countries;

      5. Resources contributions by industrialized countries and international financial institutions, including regional institutions;

      6. Formulation of financial strategies that include possible partnerships with non-governmental organizations and the private sector and the promotion of conditions for increased private financial flows;

      7. Strengthening of consultative mechanisms, especially at the subregional and regional levels, by Governments and the international community aimed at making freshwater a development priority and at improving dialogue between industrialized and developing countries in a well-targeted and predictable manner, based on national action plans, with a special focus on sustainable and integrated water resources management that recognizes the needs of all stakeholders, especially vulnerable groups and people living in poverty. This could include exploring the potential of new financial arrangements.
      Follow-up and assessment
  6. The Commission on Sustainable Development:
    1. Invites Governments to continue to provide voluntary national communication or reports on actions they have taken towards the development and implementation of national strategies and programmes in integrated water resources development, management and protection. Requests the Secretariat to continue collecting, analysing and disseminating national information on this implementation and to ensure that data is gender-differentiated whenever possible. Also requests the Secretariat, in reporting to the Commission, to make a more comprehensive use of the information already provided by Governments through their national reports and to promote exchanges of such information and further develop relevant databases;
    2. Encourages Governments to work together at appropriate levels to improve integrated water resources management. The overall aim should be to ensure effective arrangements for cooperation between Governments to promote the implementation of policies and strategies at the local and national levels. Possibilities should also be identified for joint projects and missions;
    3. Recognizes the important tasks for United Nations agencies and programmes and other international bodies in helping developing countries to implement their integrated water resources development, management and protection programmes and policies. It invites the Subcommittee on Water Resources of the Administrative Committee on Coordination, as task manager for chapter 18 of Agenda 21, to make its work more transparent through, inter alia, regular briefings to Governments, to enhance coordination within the United Nations system and to accelerate the implementation of chapter 18 by considering action to, inter alia:
      1. Identify gaps or inconsistencies in the implementation of programmes of its constituent organizations by assessing the main features and effectiveness of the implementation of those activities and ensure that the mainstreaming of gender perspectives is appropriately included;
      2. Increase efficiency in programme delivery and possibilities for joint programming;
      3. Explore the potential of cooperation arrangements and, where appropriate, take into account the experience gained in existing programmes in the United Nations system;
    4. Invites the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Commission, prior to its eighth session, on progress of the Subcommittee on Water Resources of the Administrative Committee on Coordination, as task manager of chapter 18 of Agenda 21, on the activities mentioned in the above paragraph;
    5. Stresses the importance of coordination of policies and activities of the specialized agencies and other bodies of the United Nations system related to freshwater, including clean and safe water supply and sanitation, and, given the seriousness of the situation, emphasizes the need to provide close attention to the effects of disposal of toxic substances, including arsenic contamination of drinking water supplies, and persistent organic pollutants upon water resources, as recommended by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 1997;
    6. Invites the United Nations Environment Programme, in collaboration with other relevant United Nations bodies, to play a vital role in providing inputs through the provision of technical and scientific advice on environmental aspects of the sustainable development of freshwater resources. In the field of freshwater, the Programme could focus on assisting countries, especially developing countries, in strengthening their ability in this regard, in technology transfer and environmental institutional strengthening and in responding to requests for assistance in strengthening integrated river basin management. The potential of the Global Environment Monitoring System and other relevant global monitoring networks should be fully utilized. Such activities would provide an effective contribution to the work of the Commission;
    7. Encourages Governments, in cooperation with relevant organizations, to organize meetings aimed at identifying problems to be resolved, articulating priorities for action and exchanging experience and best practices and to facilitate progress in implementing the present decision. Such meetings are invited to inform the Commission of their conclusions in order to contribute to its work;
    8. Recognizes the need for periodic assessments of the success of strategic approaches to the sustainable development, management, protection and use of freshwater resources in achieving the goals described in chapter 18 of Agenda 21 and for a global picture of the state of freshwater resources and potential problems;
    9. Invites the Subcommittee on Water Resources of the Administrative Committee on Coordination, as task manager for chapter 18 of Agenda 21, to arrange the compilation and publication of such assessments.


United Nations General Assembly
19th Special Session
New York, 23-27 June 1997

Resolution A/RES/S-19/2 19 September 1997

S/19-2. Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21
  1. Water resources are essential for satisfying basic human needs, health and food production, and the preservation of ecosystems, as well as for economic and social development in general. It is a matter of urgent concern that more than one fifth of all people still do not have access to safe drinking water and more than one half of humanity lacks adequate sanitation. From the perspective of developing countries, fresh water is a priority and a basic need, especially taking into account that in many developing countries fresh water is not readily available for all segments of the population, inter alia, owing to lack of adequate infrastructure and capacity, water scarcity, and technical and financial constraints. Moreover, fresh water is also crucial for developing countries in order to satisfy the basic needs of their population in the areas of agricultural irrigation, industrial development, hydroelectric generation, and so forth. In view of the growing demands on water, which is a finite resource, it will become a major limiting factor in socio-economic development unless early action is taken. There is growing concern regarding the increasing stress on water supplies caused by unsustainable use patterns, affecting both water quality and quantity, and the widespread lack of access to safe water supply and suitable sanitation in many developing countries. Because the commitments of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade of the 1980s have not been fully met, there is still a need to ensure the optimal use and protection of all fresh-water resources, so that the needs of everyone on this planet, including access to safe drinking water and sanitation, can be met. This calls for the highest priority to be given to the serious fresh-water problems facing many regions, especially in the developing world. There is an urgent need:
    1. To assign high priority, in accordance with specific national needs and conditions, to the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for integrated watershed management, including issues related to pollution and waste, the interrelationship between water and land, including mountains, forests, upstream and downstream users, estuarine environments, biodiversity and the preservation of aquatic ecosystems, wetlands, climate and land degradation and desertification, recognizing that subnational, national and regional approaches to fresh-water protection and consumption following a watershed basin or river basin approach offer a useful model for the protection of fresh-water supplies;
    2. To strengthen regional and international cooperation for technological transfer and the financing of integrated water resources programmes and projects, in particular those designed to increase access to safe water supply and sanitation;
    3. To ensure the continued participation of local communities, and women in particular, in the management of water resources development and use;
    4. To provide an enabling national and international environment that encourages investments from public and private sources to improve water supply and sanitation services, especially in fast growing urban and peri-urban areas, as well as in poor rural communities in developing countries; and for the international community to adopt and implement commitments to support the efforts to assist developing countries in achieving access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all;
    5. To recognize water as a social and economic good with a vital role in the satisfaction of basic human needs, food security, poverty alleviation and the protection of ecosystems. Economic valuation of water should be seen within the context of its social and economic implications, reflecting the importance of meeting basic needs. Consideration should be given to the gradual implementation of pricing policies that are geared towards cost recovery and the equitable and efficient allocation of water, including the promotion of water conservation, in developed countries; such policies could also be considered in developing countries when they reach an appropriate stage in their development, so as to promote the harmonious management and development of scarce water resources and generate financial resources for investment in new water supply and treatment facilities. Such strategies should also include programmes assigned to minimize wasteful consumption of water;
    6. To strengthen the capability of Governments and international institutions to collect and manage information, including scientific, social and environmental data, in order to facilitate the integrated assessment and management of water resources, and foster regional and international cooperation for information dissemination and exchange through cooperative approaches among United Nations institutions, including the United Nations Environment Programme, and centres for environmental excellence. In this regard, technical assistance to developing countries will continue to be important;
    7. For the international community to give support to the efforts of developing countries, with their limited resources, to shift to higher-value, less water-intensive modes of agricultural and industrial production and to develop the educational and informational infrastructure necessary to improve the skills of the labour force required for the economic transformation that needs to take place if use of fresh-water resources is to be sustainable. International support for the integrated development of water resources in developing countries, and appropriate innovative initiatives and approaches at the bilateral and regional levels are also required;
    8. To encourage watercourse States to develop international watercourses with a view to attaining sustainable utilization and appropriate protection thereof and benefits therefrom, taking into account the interests of the watercourse States concerned.
  2. Considering the urgent need for action in the field of fresh water, and building on existing principles and instruments, arrangements, programmes of action and customary uses of water, Governments call for a dialogue under the aegis of the Commission on Sustainable Development, beginning at its sixth session, aimed at building a consensus on the necessary actions, and in particular, on the means of implementation and on tangible results, in order to consider initiating a strategic approach for the implementation of all aspects of the sustainable use of fresh water for social and economic purposes, including, inter alia, safe drinking water and sanitation, water for irrigation, recycling, and waste-water management, and the important role fresh water plays in natural ecosystems. This intergovernmental process will be fully fruitful only if there is a proved commitment by the international community to the provision of new and additional financial resources for the goals of this initiative.


UN Commission on Sustainable Development
2nd Session
New York, 16-27 May 1994

Report of the Commission on Sustainable Development on its Second Session. E/1994/33 - E/CN.17/1994/20

Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention

D. Review of sectoral cluster: health, human settlements and freshwater
3. Freshwater
  1. The Commission notes with great concern that many countries are facing a water crisis, with rapid deterioration of water quality, serious water shortages and reduced availability of freshwater, which severely affect human health, the ecosystem and economic development, due to:
    1. Increasing water demand, inappropriate water resource management and a lack of groundwater protection, particularly in agriculture and in and around areas of urban concentration;
    2. Natural and man-made causes of water shortages, such as periodic droughts, falling water tables, changing weather patterns, a reduced capacity of soils in some areas to retain moisture due to land degradation within catchment areas, and land degradation generally;
    3. A lack of public awareness about the need for conservation of freshwater supplies, especially safe drinking water, and for proper sanitation, associated with a lack of recognition of water as a finite resource, a social and economic good and an essential part of ecosystems.
  2. The Commission is concerned that the water crisis infringes the basic human needs of present and future generations.
  3. The Commission realizes that the crisis needs urgent and concrete action by national Governments as well as international organizations in order to implement chapter 18 of Agenda 21, particularly by supporting developing countries.
  4. The Commission recommends that countries give priority attention to the integrated management, mobilization and use of water resources in a holistic manner, while stressing the importance of the involvement of local communities, in particular of women.
  5. The Commission calls for water to be considered as an integral part of the ecosystem, a natural resource and a social and economic good, the quantity and quality of which determines the nature of its utilization for the benefit of present and future generations.
  6. The Commission recommends that the conservation and sustainable use of water should be given high priority, and invites the Subcommittee on Water Resources of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) to initiate model projects, to be carried out by relevant agencies, in order to examine and exemplify the feasibility of water-saving strategies in water-intensive agricultural, industrial, urban and domestic sectors.
  7. The Commission realizes that, in order to create changes through the new approaches brought about by Agenda 21, special attention should be given to:
    1. The mobilization and integrated management of water, including pollution minimization and prevention, taking into account implications for health, the environment, social and economic policy and spatial planning;
    2. Investigations into the environmental flow requirements necessary to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and the development of integrated institutional methodologies for that purpose;
    3. The integrated management and conservation of river and lake basins, nationally, internationally and at all appropriate levels;
    4. The involvement of those people that were most directly affected by water management strategies in the planning of water infrastructure projects;
    5. Efforts to enable the integrated management of water at the lowest appropriate level and shifting to a system of sustainable demand management;
    6. The implementation of the polluter pays principle, pricing water to equal its full costs while taking into account the special condition of the poor, and the prevention of wasteful consumption;
    7. The encouragement of partnership projects between all parties concerned;
    8. The promotion of a gender-perspective in water resources management;
    9. The modification of patterns of behaviour towards clean water and hygiene, including the promotion of educational programmes in that sphere;
    10. The promotion of greater efficiency of sustainable water use, water conservation and protection, particularly in agriculture, and the increased application of rainwater-harvesting techniques;
    11. The conservation and sustainable management of forests, including the promotion of afforestation as a significant means of halting soil degradation and increasing moisture retention;
    12. The bridging of the gap between physical, human and financial resources and the escalating demand for water and the need for sanitation;
    13. The search for innovations, both technological and non-technological, to protect our finite and vulnerable water resources, as well as the sharing of such innovative technologies on a global basis, in particular with developing countries;
    14. The use of environmental impact assessments with a multidisciplinary and multisectoral approach as a decision-making tool in water resources projects.
  8. The Commission urges Governments to mobilize, within the framework established by chapter 33 of Agenda 21, adequate financial resources, through the use of all available sources and mechanisms, as well as maximizing the availability and smooth flow of additional resources, to implement chapter 18 of Agenda 21, and urges United Nations agencies and programmes to provide the necessary technical assistance, particularly to developing countries.
  9. The Commission stresses the importance of capacity-building and the strengthening of institutional and human resource development programmes, in particular in developing countries, as an essential condition for efficient water management, mobilization and protection; priority should be given to the participation of women and youth at all levels of capacity-building. In that respect, the Commission takes note of a constituent meeting of the International Network of Basin Organizations, held in Chamry, France from 4 to 6 May 1994.
  10. The Commission encourages the involvement of the private sector, the utilization of the "build-operate-transfer" approach and public-private partnerships in water-related projects undertaken through foreign direct investment, international financial institutions, United Nations agencies, bilateral assistance and partnership projects between stakeholders.
  11. The Commission takes note, with appreciation, of the outcome of the International Ministerial Conference on Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation, hosted by the Government of the Netherlands (Noordwijk, 22 and 23 March 1994) and of the results of the Round Table on Water and Health in Underprivileged Urban Areas hosted by the Government of France (Sophia Antipolis, 21-23 February 1994).
  12. The Commission endorses the Action Programme presented in the annex to document E/CN.17/1994/12 as one of the main instruments for implementing programme area D of chapter 18 of Agenda 21.
  13. The Commission requests that countries include in their 1997 national reports a specific section on national goals and strategies in the field of drinking water and environmental sanitation, including, as appropriate, target dates, with a view to the implementation of the Action Programme and with the assistance of international organizations.
  14. The Commission invites Governments to assist on a voluntary basis in the furtherance of chapter 18 of Agenda 21 and to report on those activities to the Commission in 1997. It welcomes in that respect the offer already made by France, Morocco, the Netherlands and Tunisia regarding the implementation of the Action Programme.
  15. The Commission welcomes the work carried out by the organizations of the United Nations system through the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources with regard to the systematic collection and analysis of information.
  16. In that context, the Commission urges the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and other relevant United Nations bodies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to strengthen their efforts towards a comprehensive assessment of freshwater resources, with the aim of identifying the availability of such resources, making projections of future needs, and identifying problems to be considered by the special session of the General Assembly in 1997.
  17. The Commission recommends to the Economic and Social Council that it invite the Committee on Natural Resources to address the question of freshwater as part of the comprehensive assessment at its third session in 1996.
  18. The Commission invites Governments to cooperate actively with technical inputs to the process, taking into account the need for support for the full participation of developing countries, and welcomes the offer of the Government of Sweden to contribute by preparing a preliminary assessment of freshwater.
  19. The Commission decides to review, at its 1997 session, the result of all the work outlined in paragraphs 148-150 above, in preparation for the 1997 special session of the General Assembly.
  20. The Commission requests the Secretary-General to strengthen coordination within the United Nations system with a view to concentrating and consolidating the great amount of international action in the field of water, including the implementation of chapter 18 of Agenda 21, and to report to the Economic and Social Council.
  21. The Commission further recommends to the Economic and Social Council that it consider the issue at its coordination segment in 1995.
  22. The Commission welcomes the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and urges that adequate support be given to various strategies identified in the Programme of Action to address water resources issues, in particular those related to water supply and environmental sanitation, as well as the health dimension of water quality.
  23. The Commission recommends that future international conferences, such as the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development, the Fourth World Conference on Women, the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and others, take into account relevant international agreements on water resources issues, in particular those related to water supply and environmental sanitation, as well as the health dimension of water quality.
  24. The Commission invites the Secretary-General to transmit the above recommendations to those conferences.