The UNECE regional forum on sustainable development started today February 28, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. The first day witnessed a special meeting of representatives of civil society organizations in Europe to discuss the mechanisms of work on SDGs 2030.
DOZ International for the second year took part as member of the organizing committee for European civil society organizations under United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – UNECE. DOZ together with other members of the organizing committee is advocating for the formal recognition of civil society organization s in the United Nations and to organize the roles of civil society organizations for Europe region under constituencies to advance the SDGs 2030 under UNECE.
Among the constituencies that DOZ and other CSOs seek to officially establish them under UN are: Diaspora and Migrants constituency, Youth organizations constituency, Women constituency, peasants and farmers constituency, indigenous people constituency, workers and trade unions constituency, persons with disabilities constituency, LGBTIQ constituency, homeless constituency, elderly constituency, and other groups and regions that will be mapped and added in next steps.
DOZ in particular focus on supporting the establishment of diaspora and migrant constituency and youth constituency since 2017 as DOZ made a statement in UNECE RFSD 2017 indicating the major role of diaspora and migrant organizations in sustainable development process in both home and host countries.
In this year 2018, DOZ advocated again for diaspora and migrant’s constituency and for the SDG 6 on water security.
In the UNECE special session on SDG 6, the founder and CEO of DOZ International Abdulaziz Ramadan was selected by CSOs organization committee of UNECE RFSD 2018 to give a word about water as a tool in conflict areas to UNECE government representatives, CSOs, and other guests. Mr. Abdulaziz Ramadan shared facts about how some states use water as a means of pressure on other communities especially in the Middle East region, the risk of targeting existing water dams in active conflict regions such as in Northern Syria. Another example of how dams because forced migration was the historical city of Hasan Kayf in Turkey which is under threat of extinction due to construction of a water dam.
The full speech of Mr. Abdulaziz Ramadan – DOZ International at UNECE 2018:
Thank you very much for giving me the space, my name is Abdulaziz Ramadan from DOZ e. V. based in Germany, speaking on behalf of the Regional CSO engagement mechanism. I will be talking about gaps found in conflict regions in relation to global water security and management.
As a Diaspora and Migrant CSO Representative, my work is directly linked to IDPs and refugees those who are on an ongoing move fleeing from either natural disaster caused by water lack and/or those fleeing from man-made conflicts.
Ladies and Gentlemen, water can ignite conflicts and wars and at the same time it can also be a very powerful tool to build peace, partnerships, and prosperity among nations and for local communities and reduce gender inequality.
My NGO works with partners in Germany, Turkey and in the Middle Eastern region.
Examples of forced migration linked to lack of water can be found in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Water mismanagement was and still is a reason for forced migration in many local communities for example when hydro-dams are built without consent of the local communities, or when dams in conflict areas get bombed.
For example in Afrin city in Syria the shelling near the Afrin dam caused damage to its infrastructure and might put longer term peace and sustainable development at risk.
Mostly, the local communities which suffer from water infrastructure projects have no means to deliver their voice to Member States or UN agencies.
In Iraq for example, we can see whole communities on the banks of the Tigris river who lack water, and this is linked to transboundary issue of water sharing and management of transboundary rivers.
The UNECE water convention has good practices of transboundary river cooperation and conflict resolution, for example from the Central Asian region.
I also want to address that such ‘water refugees’ are in need of clean water access at refugee camps, especially for hygiene and sanitation.
In for example Azatari camp in Jordan, which is the biggest, hundred thousands of Syrian refugees only receive some drinking water, but there is no infrastructure for hygiene and sanitation, there are no containers or showers. This puts them at threat of potential diseases that could also spread among local communities. Women and girls in refugee camps, are disproportionately affected by lack of water as they are left without menstrual hygiene management facilities and are left with unsanitary solutions as a result. We also know that many women are left behind in refugee camps while men continue the migration.
We as CSOs often have quicker access to such data due to our local contacts. We would need to share this data with UN agencies and decision makers. And ensure that the data is gender disaggregated.
We need CSOs and local communities to have co-decision making on such important issues as water sharing, dam building, etc.
Finally, let me stress the point that in addition to the linkage between SDGs 6 and other SDGs mentioned in draft UNECE concept note, we found out that SDG 6 has a very strong linkages on all levels with SDG 16 especially in terms anti-corruption and justice in distributing water among local communities and among states on regional level and transboundary issues which leads to a sustainable peace if we act all together on time.
It is also highly linked with SDG 5 and SDG 10 in terms of structural barriers which dominates whom has access to water and whom are disproportionately affected by water scarcity and forced migration.
Through our advocacy work on SDG 6 at local and regional level , we want to ensure that water can be an effective global tool for peace.