Urgent Call for EU to Accelerate Progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Investments in infrastructure to address Europe’s inadequate progress on the water-related Sustainable Development Goals need to be guided by indicators and data that make clear how gaps in meeting the SDG targets will be closed, according to study findings announced yesterday, 5 november, at the 2019 Amsterdam International Water Week Conference.

Lead author Professor Kees van Leeuwen, of KWR Water Research Institute, commented: “We conclude that the UN has made a big step, but that the implementation of the SDG 6 water indicators can be improved significantly by making them ‘SMART’.”

The AIWW Conference drew to a close today, with approximately 800 delegates from around the world having gathered to seek progress on crucial water issues as part of the wider Amsterdam International Water Week. Participants were inspired by a line-up of high profile keynote speakers, and an interactive Integrated Leaders Forum helped to shape the thinking of city, utility and industry representatives.

“There is urgency around water on many fronts,” commented Bianca Nijhof, Managing Director of the Netherlands Water Partnership and new Chair of the Managing Board of AIWW. “Those who work in the water sector know this. One of our biggest challenges is therefore to connect and collaborate across sectors and organisations. By better recognising the value of water in meeting essential needs such as food and energy, we can make progress together across the SDGs.”

High level support from Ban Ki-moon, Patriarch Bartholomew and more

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, and leader of the Global Commission on Adaptation, helped set the tone for the event in a special video message to the week’s opening ceremony, highlighting in particular the need for action on climate change. “Safeguarding our water for all is a formidable task, but it is also an opportunity to improve our ecosystems, grow our economies, boost agricultural efficiencies, and tackle inequity,” he said.

David Nabarro, former UN special advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, highlighted AIWW’s contribution to progressing the SDGs. “This agenda for sustainable development, the one that is underpinning the discussions this week on integration, is key to every one of us in the world,” he told the conference, adding: “It is the only plan we have for the future of our planet, and in this, the water community is central.”

In the closing, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, also known as ‘The Green Patriarch’, pointed out there is an ocean in every Human Being “Water is the most precious resource of our planet. It is a non-negotiable right for every human being.”

Amsterdam Agreements

AIWW seeks to promote practical progress. This is most visible in the Amsterdam Agreements initiative, in which case owners of projects to tackle specific water challenges form partnerships that commit to developing solutions and to sharing insights and progress during editions of AIWW. Four new Amsterdam Agreements were launched during AIWW 2019, joining ten existing ones.

The new agreements include one between Earthview Management and Kenya Innovative Finance Facility for Water to develop a smart water metering system that will benefit Kenya’s Water Resources Authority. In a river-basin management initiative, the Senegal River Basin Development Authority (OMVS) and the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) have agreed to collaborate around the Senegal River Basin. Also, the RESILIO Amsterdam Agreement aims to realise integrated systems of smart blue-green roofs on housing and other buildings.
A fourth agreement is between AMS Institute and Waternet to create Living Labs in the city of Amsterdam.

2019 marked the fifth edition of the biennial AIWW, which is integrated in the global water calendar through partnerships and cooperation with other key events around the world. The overall theme for 2019 is the implementation of integrated solutions by cities, industries, utilities and financiers: from cases to bankable projects. Other important features of the AIWW Conference were the prominent roles given to Future Water Leaders embedded in the event.

“The need to connect and collaborate to achieve progress on water issues highlights the value of the high quality networking that I see the AIWW Conference 2019 has delivered,” added Bianca Nijhof.


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