Estonia at UN Water Conference: Water problems requiring new approach

  • 2023-03-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonia, which is taking part in the United Nations 2023 Water Conference in New York, is of the opinion that problems pertaining to water require a new approach.

The UN wants to put pressure on countries of the world to take decisive steps towards more sustainable water management. The UN Water Conference is taking place once more after a hiatus of almost 50 years, however, many issues that were discussed at the first UN Water Conference in 1977 still remain unresolved.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world, or about two billion people, currently lack clean drinking water, and almost half of the world's population, or about 3.6 billion, lack adequate sanitation.

Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment Meelis Munt, who is representing Estonia at the conference, said that Estonia has invested over one billion euros in renovating its water and sewage systems in the past ten years. 

"The most urgent environmentally hazardous sources of pollution have been eliminated but we continuously struggle with an alarmingly large amount of nutrients entering water bodies from land," Munt said.

"Our experience shows that we need to change our approach and start monitoring sea areas along with every river that flows into the sea. This comprehensive approach from the source to the sea helps us better understand where the pollution actually comes from and where and how it would be most effective to reduce the pollution reaching the sea," he explained.

The UN Water Conference calls on states to fulfill previously made promises in order to achieve access to safe drinking water, as well as sanitary and hygiene conditions for everyone by 2030. The two co-organizers of the water conference, the Netherlands and Tajikistan, hope to put together an action plan at the meeting that will speed up the necessary steps for the countries of the world to solve water and sanitation problems.

On Wednesday, Estonia, as the current head of the UN Water Convention, will organize a side event "How the Water Convention Helps Speed Up Cross-border Water Cooperation" together with Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Slovenia, Switzerland and the UN Water Convention Secretariat. The topic is relevant in several countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, from which there have recently been new signatories to the convention.

The first day of the UN Water Conference coincides with the International Water Day, which this year also calls on countries to act more quickly to solve water problems.