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Fifth UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters: Building Back Better Towards a More Resilient and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World


 On June 25, 2021, the Fifth UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters, entitled, “Building Back Better Towards a More Resilient and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World” was held successfully, co-organized by the governments of Japan, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and Tajikistan; the High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP); and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). The aims of the session were to raise global awareness of, and promote building back better towards, a more resilient and sustainable society in the post-COVID-19 era, by addressing development issues, notably issues related to water and disasters, such as urbanization, food, environment, and climate change. Approximately 500 people from 72 countries and 33 international organizations attended.

 The Session consisted of three parts: 1) Science and Technology Panel; 2) Plenary Session; and 3) High-level Panel Discussion/Closing. In the Science and Technology Panel, opening remarks by GRIPS President Akihiko Tanaka were followed by presentations by and discussions among panelists on the roles of science and technology in society; and the importance of open data policy, particularly regarding systemic risk management.

 Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, made opening remarks in the Plenary Session. Following the opening remarks, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan delivered a keynote speech. Dr. Kenzo Hiroki, GRIPS Professor and HELP coordinator, gave a thematic message on “Launching HELP Guiding Principles to Build Resilient Post-Corona World” and “HELP Global Report on Water and Disasters 2021.”

 In the High-level Panel Session, H.E. Ms. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management for the Netherlands, moderated a panel discussion focusing on issues related to water and disaster risk reduction. Panelists from a number of countries and organizations proposed a variety of topics for discussion at the coming 2023 UN Conference on the Water Action Decade. They also reached consensus that the 2023 UN Conference presents an opportunity for the international community to mobilize around transformation of the management of water and the achievement of the water-related SDGs.


 In the Closing session, Mr. Thomas Stratenwert of the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, introduced “Water Dialogues for Results – Bonn 2021,” and closing remarks were given by Mr. Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Dr. Han, HELP Chair.



>Click here to view the symposium agenda.

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