8 May 2009The upcoming United Nations meeting to tackle the global financial crisis is both “timely and historic,” the President of the General Assembly said, urging all States to participate at the highest level and to support the draft outcome document that he presented today. “The participation of all Member States at the highest level is indispensable for the transcendental gathering to achieve its full potential,” Miguel D’Escoto told the 192-member Assembly. “I earnestly believe that this is an opportunity the world cannot afford not to take advantage of.”Mr. D’Escoto is tasked with organizing the UN High-Level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, which was called for by participants at a financing for development meeting held in Qatar in late 2008.He emphasized that the outcome document that leaders will adopt at the end of the 1-3 June meeting must reflect the aspirations of the Member States. “In particular, it must speak to the hundreds of millions across the globe who have no other forum in which they can express their unique and often divergent perspectives.”Presenting the draft outcome document to the Assembly, Mr. D’Escoto said he tried his best to reflect the concerns and expectations expressed to him by the government officials he met with in recent weeks as he travelled to different countries. “This draft outcome document may be the only document that the heads of State and government may see prior to coming to the June meeting,” he later told a news conference. “This is the document that will make it or break it,” he said, noting that the text will be the basis on which leaders will decide whether to take the June meeting seriously or to cast it as just another kind of “international charade” that will come to nothing. “I am hopeful that we will be instrumental in bringing tranquillity to the world that is in the midst of much anxiety caused by many converging crises, but mainly by the financial and economic turmoil.”
“The tragic paradox of water is that water is a truly valuable resource of which the true value is often invisible,” the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Agriculture Department, Louise Fresco, said at the end of the five-day meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.“We do need to solve this paradox and move towards a true valuation of water, through a mechanism that goes beyond its economic value to include social equity and environmental values,” she added.The conference, Water for food and ecosystems, jointly organized by FAO and the Dutch Government, adopted a list of actions to improve the efficient use of water for food production while safeguarding ecosystems, calling on countries to harmonize legislation and policies.Each country should decide which incentives should be introduced to use water more efficiently, bring in interest groups from different sectors, such as agriculture, industry and the environment, to develop a strategic water plan to place a value on national water resources and define water allocations.Valuing water should take into account socio-economic, environmental concerns, basic human rights and cultural factors. Economic mechanisms could be used to put a price tag on water for food and ecosystems such as forests and wetlands through water charges and payments for environmental services.But attention should be paid to ensuring equitable and fair access and the ability of the poor to pay for water consumption. Farmers, especially women, should have access to credits for investments in water technology for agriculture.Countries should urgently launch national awareness-raising campaigns to stress the idea that water is a valuable and scarce good. Without such awareness, it would be very difficult to receive public support for a new economic approach towards valuing water and a more efficient use. Public private partnerships could stimulate development of technologies for re-use of wastewater, low-cost drip irrigation and treadle pumps.The conference requested FAO to take a lead in informing countries on good practices on how to reconcile the water needs of agriculture and ecosystems.