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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

 

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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

30 April 2004

Australia's freshwater management praised at major UN meeting


Dr David Kemp, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, highlighted Australia's leadership in managing its freshwater resources in an address to over 80 Ministers and other international leaders from around the world, at the 12 th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in New York this week.

Dr Kemp discussed Australia's world-leading innovative work on integrated water resource management. Of particular interest to Ministers at the CSD was Australia's work on improved governance arrangements, water access and trading rights and the provision of water for the environment.

"The CSD is the only world forum where all three elements of sustainable development are discussed — economic, social and environmental. It is therefore uniquely placed to ensure the world's leaders put sustainable development at the forefront of thinking," said Dr Kemp.

"Over 2 billion people still lack access to proper sanitation and over 1 billion lack access to safe drinking water. With 80 of the world's Ministers attending this year's CSD, the focus on water, sanitation and human settlements is extremely important.

"We must address the crucial issues of governance and finance in order to improve access to sanitation and clean water. Good governance is vital in creating the domestic conditions necessary to address these major problems, and to encourage investment from the private sector.

"It is clear that aid funding will never be able to fully cover the cost of what needs to be done. Therefore, we need to look at ways of attracting private sector finance, and increasing countries' ability to use domestic resources through, amongst other things, freeing up agricultural trade markets."

Dr Kemp said Ministers at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 agreed that more partnerships needed to be created — both public/public and private/public — to address these issues.

"This week's CSD meeting has differed from all others in its innovative approach to discussing how these partnerships could be furthered," Dr Kemp said.

"In striving to meet the Millenium Development Goals, we must also ensure that ecological systems are maintained. Otherwise we cannot hope to continue to improve the lives of those in need.

"For its part, Australia will continue to invest in the health of its freshwater resources to ensure a better future both for the environment and for the Australian people."

In opening the High Level Segment of the meeting, United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, urged the international community to make real progress in addressing global freshwater, sanitation and human settlement challenges.

The meeting's chair, Norway's Environment Minister Borge Brende, was confident that Australia's approach to freshwater management offered particularly important lessons for other countries. Dr Kemp had been invited by Minister Brende to be one of two panellists to begin Ministerial discussions at the CSD on the topic of freshwater.

The CSD was set up following the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to oversee the implementation of sustainable development activities agreed at the Summit. Its work has been re-invigorated following the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002. The CSD is meeting from 14-30 April to discuss the topics of water, sanitation and human settlements. For further information, visit http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/csd12.htm

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