Vice President Kamala Harris has announced a new White House Action Plan on Global Water Security. For the first time, the plan directly links access to water and sanitation around the world to US national security and global stability.
The plan recognizes that water security is a core element in prevention of conflict and promotion of inter-state stability. It will harness the government’s resources and will leverage science and technology to inform diplomacy, defense, and development efforts.
The White House Action Plan on Global Security defines water security very broadly. It emphasizes that “water security” implies sustainable access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services, as well as water to sustain ecosystems and for agriculture, energy, and other economic activities. Further, the White House has acknowledged that progress towards achieving water, sanitation, and hygiene goals has been slow and attributes this in part to poor management of water systems.
The Action Plan will elevate water security as an essential element of the United States’ international efforts to achieve it national security.
The plan is organized around three pillars:
- Recognizing the immense progress needed to achieve global WASH goals, the plan emphasizes the importance of affordable and sustainable WASH services, locally led solutions, and addressing the inequity that results from water insecurity—particularly for women and girls.
- Promoting sustainable management and protection of water resources and associated ecosystems to support economic growth, build resilience, mitigate the risk of instability or conflict, and increase cooperation.
- Ensuring that multilateral action mobilizes cooperation and promotes water security. Efforts to promote water cooperation through regional and multilateral fora are essential to facilitating greater collaboration among countries that share water resources.
The Plan emphasizes the need to reinforce and, possibly, redirect existing policies and actions to advance progress towards global water security goals. It encourages the use of data in decision-making and cooperation across government agencies. In addition, there is a new focus on collaboration with nongovernmental organizations, local communities, and the private sector in order to maximize the impact of new investments.