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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Opening Statement at the Breakfast on Water at the Millennium Development Goals Summit

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs 
United Nations Delegates Lounge
New York City
September 22, 2010


Thank you all for coming so early this morning. We are very pleased to convene this high-level group to discuss such an important issue.

The Secretary couldn’t be here today but clearly as some of you heard in her water speech, these are issues that are very close to her heart but it’s not just that. She has great commitment to elevating the issue of water and sanitation and it was at her urging that we are here as co-sponsors.

Let me say just two or three things as we start off.

Perhaps no single issue is as important to achieving the Millennium Development Goals as water and sanitation.

Many of you all of you know the numbers: one and a half million children die every year from preventable water diseases; water scarcity is affecting food security and economic growth; the floods and the droughts that we are witnessing are killing thousands and displacing millions; water is becoming a greater factor in violent conflicts throughout the world; and a disproportionate impact of water and sanitation is on women and girls .

Despite all of these facts, despite all the promises that we made in New York, and Johannesburg, and other places, despite the very profound evidence that we have about how climate change will effect water; our progress is still too slow.

As we often say in the United States, we have the technology, we have the know-how, this is not rocket-science. We know that when governments take the responsibility and demonstrate leadership, they can make a great difference in the lives of their people and the way in which water is addressed.

We have some great examples in this room of countries that have done that. We know that governments can make water and sanitation a priority for their national development when they do three things: when they are providing budget and support, when developing water management plans and taking into account women and the poor, and when they work collaborative and share water challenges throughout the world.

In return for these efforts, we see donors coming together and coordinating their efforts in a way that more effectively supports these issues.

These are positive steps, but we need much more. We can’t wait on this. This meeting not only elevates water but is a call to action. We must redouble our efforts.

We really cannot look at a future where, we have children continue to die from water-related disease, where we may have wars fought over water, and where water is not recognized as a core of development.

That is why we are here. Without water security, there is no human security. We must dedicate ourselves to a water-secure future; a future where everyone has water. Water is our most precious resource. We can do it and that is what we are here to do.

We believe that Water is our global imperative. Thank you.

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