KINGSTON, Jamaica - As countries around the globe gather to discuss the future of the planet’s supply of fresh water, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda says countries must act now to ensure a better future for every child.
Samuda, in his capacity as co-chair of the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, highlighted the direct impact of the water, sanitation, and hygiene crisis on children's rights, lives, and well-being.
“Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is not a privilege but a basic human right, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As governments, it is our duty to uphold this right. 69 members of the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, therefore, call on Member States to use the occasion of the UN [United Nations] Water Conference to act now to achieve SDG 6 and ensure a better future for every child”, Minister Samuda asserted.
His remarks came on day two - March 23, 2023 - of the United Nations Water Conference in New York, which is co-hosted by the Governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
The Conference, the first of its kind for close to 50 years, is placing focus on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal #6 (SDG 6) which speaks to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Additionally, Minister Samuda stated “the Government of Jamaica is happy that SDG 6 is now being given the attention that it so desperately needs. Human health and dignity are the foundations of every society and require access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Indeed, without this access, our collective ability to achieve the 2030 Agenda is undermined”.
Noting the nexus between climate change and the worsening water crisis facing much of the world, he reiterated Jamaica’s call to all developed nations to honour their commitments made under the Paris Agreement.
“There is an urgent need for significant increases in funding for Adaption. It is Jamaica’s belief that much of this should be directed toward water resilience. We have repeatedly called for the process of accessing finance to be simplified and harmonised across Funding Agencies. The climate crisis which is driving the water crisis will not abate because we want it to. It will abate because we make the tough political decisions and appropriate investments in adaptation and water resilience”, the Minister noted.
The Minister further stated that Jamaica has been moving aggressively to mainstream its climate action and has now completed its new Climate Change and Emissions Policies.
Samuda further disclosed the steps that Jamaica has taken to protect its watersheds through a New Watersheds Policy and has increased its Protected Areas while pursuing significant restoration efforts through its National Tree Planting Initiative which aims to plant three million trees in three years.
“Colleagues, all our energies would be in vain if our water resources are not effectively managed, and that is why Jamaica will honour its commitments made at the COP 15. Jamaica is proud to announce that we will complete the protection of 30 per cent of our landmass by 2025, a full five years ahead of the global target," Minister Samuda said.
Minister Samuda also signalled Jamaica’s intention to join the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Coalition for Nature which was adopted in December in Montreal at COP (Conference of Parties) 15 in light of the implementation of a new Global Biodiversity Framework. The Coalition will advocate for enhanced means of implementing ambitious objectives for nature in SIDS.
Minister Samuda is leading Jamaica’s Delegation at the 2023 UN Water Conference in New York.