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At a glance: Japan

UNICEF highlights water and sanitation at G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo

UNICEF Image: G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo
© REUTERS/Robichon
At the G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting on MDGs in Tokyo (from left): UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning Hans d'Orville, Italian Minister Plenipotentiary Renzo Mario Rosso, Mexican Undersecretary of Prospective, Planning and Evaluation Felix Velez Fernandez Varela, Indian Ministry of Finance Additional Secretary Loretta Vas and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Saad Yehia Houry.

By Mihoko Nakagawa

TOKYO, Japan, 11 April 2008 – UNICEF had an unprecedented opportunity to address the G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting on Millennium Development Goals and human security issues, which concluded earlier this week in Tokyo. 

“Every day, approximately 4,000 children die from lack of sanitation, poor hygiene practices and contaminated drinking water. Yet the solutions are known, the will is there and the expertise widely available,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Saad Houry, who spoke at the session of Human Security and the Achievement of the MDGs. 

The time was opportune to call for action on the topic of water and sanitation, which too often falls off the screen of policy and decision makers. The Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development is taking place in May and the G8 Summit will convene in July.

At 'the core' of human security

“Water, sanitation and hygiene are central to reaching the Millennium Development Goals and are at the core of the concept of human security. Leaders of the G8 could not have picked a better time to include this issue in their deliberations,” Mr. Houry said.

The G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting included participants from the G8 countries (Japan, UK, US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Russia), as well as from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Korea and  South Africa. Also in attendance were members of the EU Commission, AU Commission, ASEAN Secretariat, OECD, UNDP, World Bank, UNESCO, WHO and UNICEF. 

The Government of Japan was applauded by participants for facilitating an in-depth discussion on key development challenges and opportunities that should have the attention of G8 leaders. 

1 billion without access to safe water

The most recent estimates show that almost 1 billion people lack access to safe water, and 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation  The scarcity of water in many parts of the world is growing rapidly as new emergencies affect millions of people. 

Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister, Masahiko Koumura, concluded the meeting by highlighting the need to promote good water governance and to build institutional capacities – as well as the importance of sharing relevant technologies for effective water management.      



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