Water ministers should not talk with 'water in their mouth'

Saturday, August 22, 2015

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JAMAICA, should we participate, will most likely have a lot to tell next week's Miami meeting of Caribbean ministers with responsibility for water resources management, which is preparatory to the United Nations conference to finalise a Post-2015 Development Agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of the year and will be "the global community's plan of action" for all dimensions of sustainable development for the next 15 years.

The two-day 11th Annual High Level Forum (HLF) will begin on August 27 and they will discuss critical regional water and climate issues.

Of course, it is more the lack of water that will be the centre of much of the discussions, because of the sustained drought which has afflicted several of the islands, especially Jamaica.

The big problem is that we seem to have run out of ideas.

The organisers of the meeting have said that both water and climate change are reflected as priorities in the soon-to-be-confirmed SDGs, with Goal Six being to "ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all" and Goal 13 urging countries to "take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts".

Climate change is consistently coming up in all these discussions which relate to the environment and so we are anxious to hear what new ideas can be generated out of this meeting in Miami.

The regional ministers meeting is being organised by the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility-funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) Project.

It is being held under the theme "Connecting Water to Climate, Economic Growth and Development within the Post-2015 Development Agenda" and forms part of the CWWA's 24th Annual Conference and Exhibition which is being held in partnership with the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

"Some outcomes of the Forum are likely to feed into the contribution to be made by Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December to play a pivotal part of global processes for advancing sustainable development," the organisers said.

Much impinges on the success of the water ministers' meeting which must by no means be a mere talk shop. Nor can it be an opportunity to go on a jaunt. We must face the issues with honesty and a sense of purpose and speak frankly.

In other words, the water ministers must not speak with water in their mouth.

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