The former Soviet leader, Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, who is President of the Green Cross, agreed in bilateral talks with UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, to work jointly to promote an new international convention on water as a basic human right.
They agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the proposed convention which will also look at how to build capacity and training in support of the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation, especially in Africa.
World leaders committed themselves through MDGs to halving by the year 2020 the number of people without adequate water and sanitation. In our rapidly urbanising world, water scarcity is a potential source of social and political conflict. Rapid population growth in urban areas has created environmental degradation. UN-HABITAT is tasked with helping redress this situation. The water goal is the backbone to several other goals and targets related to health, poverty and slum improvement.
But Mrs. Tibaijuka and Mr. Gorbachev said that attaining MDG in water and sanitation depends to a large extent on having an enabling policies and legislative frameworks, as well a cadre of well trained professionals capable of implementing policies on the ground.
The talks were immediately followed by the inauguration of Best Practices City and Water Exhibition. Mr. Gorbachev urged UN-HABITAT, Green Cross and the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures to bring both exhibits to as many people as possible and to disseminate its important message on critical issues related to water and human settlements through catalogues, case studies and casebooks.
Visitors to the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures in the Spanish city of Barcelona can now see some of the world’s latest developments in urban innovation at the dazzling exhibition of best practices and ideas from countries around the world.
The Best Practices City and Water Exhibit features over 50 ideas representing examples of proven solutions to common social, economic and environmental problems of an urbanising world. The objective of the Best Practices City is to display the innovations in a way that is stimulating and easy to understand.
Mr. Gorbachev said these Best Practices and Good Policies in water and sanitation had to be documented in a compelling form to accompany international efforts to recognise water as basic right so as to provide concrete examples of how an international convention on water can be adopted and adapted to national requirements.