"We need to look at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the lens of human rights, and we are at risk along the ways of implementation to decrease the weight of this approach. We cannot let that happen," warned Leo Heller, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations (UN) on water and sanitation, at the opening of the session ' The new agenda of development: the regional components for the preparation of the implementation of the ODS-6 and reach the targets linked to this goal ', which brought together experts from Brazil, Portugal, Asia and Latin America on Thursday (22).
Heller explained that in the formulation of indicators there was scarceness: "The result was very synthetic and how this formulation is taken and then moved on forward during implementation, it is necessary that in the interpretation [of the indicators] there must be a return to the content of the original purpose with a focus on human rights." The rapporteur also pointed out the responsibility of professionals. "The technicians will have to make efforts to understand and incorporate human rights in the process of implementation. This is the moment where the water and sanitation sectors cannot leave anyone behind," he said, referring to the inclusive call of the United Nations.
Jaime Melo Batista, Director of the International Water Centre of Lisbon, warned of the need for integrated public policies. "The success depends on our ability to integrate the policies and program implementation approaches. We can't work on water theme in a fragmented way. It is necessary to discuss integration and effectively act on the necessary interfaces, and within the framework of the governments and countries, effectively. The East-West and North-South cooperation is fundamental. And in my opinion, in the coming years, we must create intersectoral policies and committees."
About the industrial sector, Jaime Melo Batista highlighted the responsibility and the need for the industry to invest in innovation and infrastructure which should contribute to cleaner and environmentally friendly processes with the corresponding improvement of resources water management.
The Portuguese expert recalled the importance of capacity-building and training of water sector workers and the impact that an integrated and sustainable approach can have on the economy of the countries. "Portugal is a country of 10 million inhabitants receiving 20 million tourists per year, a consequence of the investments that have been made. Nobody goes to a country to take a bath in a dirty sea. People want clean water."
Marcelo Pires, a specialist on water resources of the Brazilian Water Agency (ANA), explained the Brazilian structure governance established by the National Water Resources Policy, taking the watershed as the implementation unit, the decentralized management as basis of this policy with the encouragement of the participation of local stakeholders in the basin committees. The expert highlighted the importance of basin committees and the need to enhance social participation. "We still have the challenge of deploying more Amazon basin committees".
Sergio Campos, head of Water and Sanitation Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), pointed out that Latin America made significant progress in access to water and sanitation, but still insufficient. "We need to invest more. We have 200 million people who need to have better access to water and, for that, we need to implement a water smart infrastructure, enabling us to perform micro-measurements, reduce the amount of non-renewable water and waste in General.
About sanitation, Sergio Campos pointed out that solutions to the challenges of Latin America cannot be conventional. "Two-thirds of the population of Latin America, more than 400 million people, have no access to a proper treatment, and less than 18% of waste water being treated before being taken back to the environment".