March 23, 2014

Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov: Statement on World Water Day

Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov: Statement on World Water Day

 United Nations Office on Drugs  and Crime (UNODC)VIENNA, 21 March (United Nations Information Service)(HORNA-Vienna) – The 22 March is World Water Day. The theme is water and energy. Across this planet, 1.3 billion people are unable to access electricity, 768 million lack access to improved water services and over one-third of the world’s population have no improved sanitation.

Water and energy are therefore essential elements in lifting people out of poverty and providing them with a better life.

But, if water and energy services are to be improved, the international community must also undertake additional efforts to halt acts of corruption that can hinder their successful delivery. The impact of corruption has been calculated to add US$12 billion a year to safe drinking water and sanitation infrastructure costs worldwide.

Corruption also undermines our collective desire for fair and equitable societies. Bribery and corruption damage the opportunities of the least privileged, vulnerable and marginalized, and lead to grossly unfair distributions of wealth and scarce resources.

Shielding large-scale projects for the development of hydro-electric plants, and other infrastructure, from corruption can be done through the public release of tendering criteria, and clear procurement contracts. An independent judiciary is another vital element to reinforcing environmental laws. Judges and public prosecutors can be the guardians of key institutions and their effectiveness.

Governments can also help guard against corruption by implementing the UN Convention against Corruption and encouraging communities and businesses to create policies that reinforce accountability and transparency. Public and private partnerships, along with the work of civil society, can assist in these efforts.

In support of global efforts to combat corruption, in 2013, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Development Programme launched a campaign, “Zero corruption, 100x development,” to also raise awareness on this issue (www.actagainstcorruption.org).

On World Water Day, we need to appreciate that water is a fundamental human need. We cannot live without it. But it must be allocated equitably and for the benefit of all. This means that governments, the private sector, civil society and the public should work together to eradicate the corruption that can prevent fair access to water for everyone.

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