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13 / 09 / 2004
Gorbachev and Tibaijuka join forces at World Urban Forum to achieve Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation

Green Cross International and UN-HABITAT signed a Cooperation Agreement today, aimed at achieving a global breakthrough for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation.

President Mikhail Gorbachev, Chairman of the Board of Green Cross International and former President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics said: “I am here today to declare that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” accusing the world’s governments of failing to live up to the development pledges made in the Millennium Declaration exactly four years ago. In the last four years, 20 million children have died from preventable water-borne diseases, and hundreds of millions of people continue to live with the daily drudgery and squalor associated with the lack of water and sanitation. Yet, today, there is little to indicate that we will not face the same situation four years from now.

“The people of the world need to wake up, take responsibility, and play their part in the great human mission enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals . We should be acting with the same sense of urgency as we would if it were our own children going thirsty,” insisted Gorbachev.

At the signing ceremony, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT said “Fundamental to this breakthrough is a Human Values approach that can bring about positive attitudinal changes and a new ethic for water and sanitation management in society and lay the foundation for good governance.” She further added that current approaches to water and sanitation management have failed to bring about any fundamental change in behaviour and personal attitudes, and in the underlying values of the people that influence decisions.

UN-HABITAT's report Water and Sanitation in the World's Cities, estimates that in Africa as many as 150 million urban residents representing up to 50% of the urban population do not have adequate water supplies, while 180 million, or roughly 60% of people in urban areas lack adequate sanitation. In urban Asia, 700 million people, constituting half the population, do not have adequate water, while 800 million people, or 60% of the urban population is without adequate sanitation. For Latin America and the Caribbean 120 million urban dwellers representing 30% of the urban population lack adequate water. Those without adequate sanitation number as many as 150 million, or 40% of the urban population.

Given these alarming statistics, this agreement is an important step towards promoting a Rights-based approach to water management in human settlements as a way of empowering the urban poor. As a first step, the two organizations will set up a task force in order to integrate the goal the Right to Water into the work of UN-HABITAT's programmes like Water for African Cities. Both organizations recognize that water is one of the basic human needs: that the water crisis is global and sustainable solutions should be found at a local level; that the participation of civil society is essential to the prevention and resolution of water conflict; and that access to safe water and basic sanitation is not a privilege – it is a fundamental right. Human Values are the motivators for sustainable, long-term changes in attitudes and behavior that affect the Right to Water.