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Press Release No. 923

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UN-Water elects new office holders as water moves to centre of
sustainable development challenge

Stockholm/Geneva 25 August 2011 (WMO) - World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud and Mr Bert Diphoorn, Director of Human Settlements Financing Division at UN-Habitat, were elected by consensus as chair and vice chair respectively of UN-Water. With the customary two-year term approaching, the election took place in Stockholm during UN-Water’s 15th meeting.

Challenges including population growth, food security and environmental degradation mean that the UN system – now more than ever before – needs to elevate the role of water on the international agenda and to step up efforts to preserve and manage this precious natural resource which is so fundamental to life on our planet.

“The impacts of climate change on the distribution and availability of water adds a new dimension to the challenges,” said Mr Jarraud. “The on-going humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa is just the latest example of the pressing need to improve management of weather extremes such as drought and floods,” he said.

Mr Jarraud will assume the rotating chair in 2012, a year in which the Rio+20 summit will focus the spotlight on sustainable development and poverty reduction – including the urgent need to accelerate progress towards the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

UN-Water, which coordinates and strengthens the work of 28 United Nations agencies on all issues relating to fresh water, was established in 2003 in order to tackle global water-related challenges and maximize opportunities in a coordinated and integrated manner across the UN family and has done much to promote the UN Delivering as One vision.

The decision to upgrade the rotating chair to Executive Head level is designed to further elevate the water agenda within the UN and to strengthen the position of the UN family to support Members in meeting the challenges of water management.

Current UN-Water Chair, Mr Adeel Zafar, UNU-INWEH Director, the Institute for Water, Environment and Health at the United Nations University in Hamilton, Canada will hand over the chairmanship at the next UN-Water meeting scheduled in February 2012.

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