Bishop of St Albans asks about United Nations World Water Development Report

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question on the government’s assessment of the United Nations World Water Development Report on 28th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the United Nations World Water Development Report, published on 15 March.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con): My Lords, the UK supports the findings of the UN World Water Development Report 2023. We agree that partnership and co-operation are key to achieving sustainable development goal 6: equitable access to water and sanitation for all. However, delivery is far off track, particularly on accountability, political leadership and finance. At last week’s UN water conference I called for increased action in these areas and announced a new £18.5 million water sanitation and hygiene—WASH—system for health programme, as well as seed funding for a new £38 million water programme.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. The report shows that where a country’s access to water is under threat, it can quickly lead to security issues, sometimes war, and eventually even higher levels of migration, so it is a subject that affects our country and every country in the world. One of the asks of the report is for partnerships to

“accelerate the development and uptake of innovative technologies through knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship and applied research.”

What are His Majesty’s Government doing to further the partnerships called for in the report?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park: The right reverend Prelate is exactly right on both counts, and our approach focuses very much on partnership and co-operation. The figures are huge: 2 billion people lacked access to safely managed water services in 2020, and 3.5 billion people lacked access to safely managed sanitation. He is also right about the link between water shortage and conflict. I think the House will find it as shocking as I do that children under five in protracted conflict zones are more likely to die as a consequence of unsafe water than from violence, so the link is absolutely there.


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