Smart water

OECD Observer

A key Millennium Development Goal agreed at the 2002 Johannesburg summit on sustainable development is to halve the numbers of people in developing countries without access to safe water and basic sanitation.

A meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in April will review progress in achieving these targets.

At the OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development in March, a group of ministers and other high-level representatives, including the chairman, Børge Brende (see page 32) are scheduled to discuss the often neglected issues of sanitation and the integrated management of water resources. And in December 2003, the OECD Global Forum on Sustainable Development discussed how to finance the provision of water and sanitation.

Financial flows would probably have to double in order to meet the targets: a big challenge in today’s cash-strapped world. As well as raising additional funds, more could be done to blend resources in smarter ways and so improve the impact of existing budgets. The OECD and the Danish authorities have developed a tool to help achieve a more effective blend. It has been applied in the former Soviet Union and China where it has helped the authorities there to develop realistic and affordable financing strategies for their water sector. More focus on such practical measures is needed.

©OECD Observer No 242, March 2004

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