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Message of the OAS General Secretariat on World Water Day 2023

  March 22, 2023

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) promotes an agenda in which water is a transversal element to the pillars of the Organization: democracy, human rights, security, and development. Over the last seventy years, the Organization has promoted and implemented more than 160 water-related projects, mobilizing close to one billion dollars to support member states.

However, more than 80 percent of the member states in Latin America and the Caribbean are still affected by problems derived from the water deficit. In addition, around 50 percent of the region's citizens live in areas of "extreme" and "high" climate vulnerability and it is estimated that 37 million people lack access to safe drinking water, while 110 million do not have access to modern sanitation services.

Additionally, climate change is exacerbating the challenges facing the integrated water resources management in the region. For example, the accelerated loss of South American glaciers affects the supply of water for human consumption, agricultural use, and hydroelectric power generation. In addition, the droughts and water shortages that affect Central America and the Caribbean have caused greater poverty, food insecurity and migration, and growing gender gaps.

Time is running out, and we must accelerate the pace to achieve the goal of WATER FOR ALL (Sustainable Development Goal number 6), and work toward inclusive and human-based water management. To contribute to this, the OAS has promoted a series of actions to guarantee sustainable development and the human right to water of the most vulnerable populations, in a context marked by a variable and changing climate.

The OAS Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI) has contributed to a paradigm shift in the integrated management of water resources, moving from centralized management, and with solutions focused on gray infrastructures, to a cross-sectoral and participatory approach that seeks innovation through dialogue between nature-based solutions and infrastructure measures.

Accelerating the change in the management of water resources is an imperative to comply with the pillars of the Organization and ensure their implementation in the Americas. Hand in hand with the countries, the OAS General Secretariat works hard to this end, promoting best practices to achieve the goals of clean water and sanitation and a more resilient sector in the face of extreme climate events.

From the OAS General Secretariat, we will continue working together with our member states to ensure that water management leads to water security in our region, seeking to balance the nexus between water, climate, biodiversity, desertification, disasters and finance, so that the OAS water agenda in the hemisphere contributes to guaranteeing more rights for more people.

Reference: E-010/23