Intervention by the Republic of Maldives

on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States

at World Water Day

22 March 2018

Mr. President, Excellencies and Distinguished Colleagues,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Alliance for Small Island States. Let me begin by aligning with the intervention by Egypt on behalf of G77 and China. It is a pleasure for me to participate in this event, which not only marks World Water Day, but also launches the International Decade for Action, "Water for Sustainable Development".

Water is the source of life on our blue planet. It links and preserves the delicate balance between all natural ecosystems, and plays a crucial role in regulating the earth's climate. It is the universal solvent with central economic significance, and limitless potential.

Despite the universality of our dependence on water, more than 2 billion people are currently living in countries with water stress, with a strong probability of future water scarcity. These challenges have been recognized across various platforms, and in numerous documents including SAMOA Pathway, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, New Urban Agenda, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; which through Goal 6 specifically addresses the necessity of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all in order to achieve sustainable development.

It is important to take a holistic approach which clearly acknowledges the linkages between all of these agendas when it comes to water, to ensure implementation efforts are coordinated and comprehensive. Through this International Decade, we hope that the UN system, member states, and external partners are brought together on the right track to alleviate the global challenges in access to clean water.

In the case of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), water systems are subject to numerous vulnerabilities, including the threats that are posed by and intensified by climate change. Many SIDS face both drought and flooding due to changing rainfall patterns, as well as saltwater intrusion into limited groundwater sources, which is linked to sea level rise, flooding, and natural disasters. At the same time, many SIDS lack the capacity to effectively treat waste-water, and some have limited access to hygiene and sanitation services and infrastructure.

As SIDS we are committed to identifying and working on our unique challenges, with the SAMOA Pathway, the central framework outlining the commitments of SIDS to achieve sustainability, speaking to the need to develop infrastructure and capacity to improve management of water resources and related ecosystems in order to provide safe drinking water and expanded wastewater treatments, all while achieving efficient use of water. Furthermore, we encourage greater consideration of risk management in the area of water and sanitation, linking the issues around water systems planning and financing with natural disasters.

Despite continued efforts, our limited financial, human and physical resources, remoteness and dispersed population, continue to make further progress extremely difficult, and the realities of climate change and increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters means there is an urgent need to expand our work. This should begin by moving forward with realization of the committed means of implementation. SIDS continue to seek increased capacity for data collection and analysis to first develop baseline data, and then to support evidence based policy. Improvements in data capacity, however, require increased knowledge sharing and training, and access to technology and funding.

To enhance the realization objectives of this decade, we need partnerships that offer innovative solutions. We support these initiatives through the SIDS Partnership Framework, and we urge member states and other actors that are not yet involved to engage in more SIDS Partnerships, and for those already involved, to consider ways to improve or scale up partnerships, especially those addressing water issues. It is important that any new partnerships be driven by the specific needs, and therefore we encourage clear communication and outreach as a core tenant of the process.

We all must take clear and definitive action as water pollution, water scarcity, and other water stresses are realities facing every country around the world.

From the launching of this Decade, we hope to see more projects materializing that deliver clear, definitive and tangible outcomes on the ground. The goal of sustainable access to water and sanitation for all is an attainable one, but can only be realized with enhanced collective action from all levels.

I thank you.