Water: Earth’s majestic substance
Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is a specialist in water management, serving as as chairman of the U.N. Secretary-General’s independent advisory board on water and sanitation.
Since 2006, you have you have been the chairman of UNSGAB. What is the role of this organization and what are its goals?
UNSGAB was set up in 2004 by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to bring to attention the development goals for water and sanitation: to halve the number of people that don’t have access to clean drinking water and sanitation. We try to get water and sanitation on the agenda and work together with governments, regional and development banks, the World Bank and NGOs to tackle water and sanitation problems.
Your global targets to help eradicate extreme poverty, child mortality and epidemics are meant to be met in 2015. Will it happen?
The goal to halve the number of people with no access to clean drinking water will most likely be reached. However, that doesn’t mean that these numbers will be reduced by half in all countries concerned. As for sanitation, that is a much more complicated issue.
What are UNSGAB’s priorities at the moment?
We have just launched our second action plan, concentrating on reusing waste water. Even waste water can be reused — for irrigation in agriculture, for example.