Speech by Steffi Lemke at the information event for the Permanent Representations (StäV) of the UN member states on the appointment of a UN special representative for water

Bundesministerin Steffi Lemke
Water is the basis of all life and a fundamental requirement for sustainable development. This is why the proposal to appoint a UN Special Envoy on Water.

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Minister Schlettwein,
My co-hosts from Namibia, Egypt, Thailand and Mexico,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted that we are meeting today online to discuss the proposal of a UN Special Envoy on Water. Water is the basis of all life and a fundamental requirement for sustainable development. It is a human right. And it is the resource that makes us feel the impacts of the climate crisis the most. Water does not respect social or geographical boundaries. Equitable access to water is a step towards more gender equality. And if water bodies are protected and used sustainably across borders, water can also be a resource for peace.

Unless we make rapid progress on implementing SDG 6 and all water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, we are putting implementation of all other SDGs at risk.

Germany has already made a valuable contribution with the Bonn Water Dialogues for Results. The Bonn key messages and recommendations are the result of a comprehensive dialogue process, involving almost 1,000 participants from all regions of the world. Many of you were part of these dialogues or belong to the 63 UN member states supporting the political messages. My thanks to you for that.

Water needs a more powerful voice! This is why one outcome of the process – and the reason for today’s meeting – was the proposal to appoint a UN Special Envoy on Water.

Discussions as part of the Bonn Dialogues showed that we need coordinated global action and a stronger and more effective role for the United Nations. A UN Special Envoy could make a crucial contribution to promoting dialogue and outreach and representing water issues at the highest political level in the UN and beyond. This can give a more powerful voice to especially vulnerable regions like Africa. Organisations like African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) are key partners in ensuring water issues are on the political agenda.

At the moment, the climate crisis and growing demand for water are posing a threat to achieving SDG 6 and the water-related Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda The UN Special Envoy on Water can play an active part in mobilising additional action and financing. This would especially help countries that are facing the biggest challenges in achieving SDG 6 and are hit hardest by the impacts of climate change. A UN Special Envoy on Water from the Global South would therefore be a perfect fit.

The UN Special Envoy on Water must work closely with UN Water and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation to prevent duplication of efforts in the water landscape of the UN system, which is already very fragmented.

Germany supports the appointment of a UN Special Envoy on Water. I would be pleased if we could jointly put this proposal forward to the UN Secretary-General in order to accelerate implementation of SDG 6 to 2030 and beyond.


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