Minister of Water Supply Mani Chandra Thapa said water-related goals and targets were key foundations for quality health, poverty eradication, renewable energy, equal access to education, gender equality and human rights.

In his virtual address to the High-level Meeting on 'Implementation of Water-related Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda' in New York on March 22, the minister said, ''Currently, over 90 per cent of people of Nepal have access to drinking water, while about 99 per cent have access to basic sanitation facilities.'' This was informed by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, New York.

Describing water and sanitation as of paramount importance to all living beings, he said the SDG 6 was an essential enabler to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

''Nepal prioritises access to clean water and sanitation as fundamental services for people,'' he said, adding that water and sanitation related goals and targets had been integrated in the periodic plans, Road Map to SDGs and the WASH Sector Development Plan (2016-2030), which were being implemented to ensure access to safe, adequate, and affordable drinking water and sanitation services to all by 2030.

Stating that over 2.2 billion people still had no access to safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people lacked proper sanitation in the world, he said, ''Water and sanitation-related stresses coupled with crises such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have further worsened the woes, which is more so in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.'' He apprised the session that Nepal's high mountains were water towers and custodians of ecosystems and the rivers emanating from them travelled downstream unfolding an intrinsic hydrological link that bound over 1.5 billion people living in South Asia.

''We are deeply concerned about the erosion of the health of our high mountains and hydro-scapes due to its organic link with biodiversity and the sea-level rise.

This must stop. We call for urgent global action to address this problem,'' he said.

He further said Nepal was effortful in addressing all forms of water pollution, preventing water-related disasters, and building resilience against climate change and graduating from the status of LDC to realise our national vision: 'Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali'.

''Nepal commends the UN initiatives such as Water for Sustainable Development and SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework and also underscores that climate action is critical to mitigate the adverse impacts on the SDG 6,'' the minister added.

He apprised the session that Nepal was committed to intensifying its efforts to achieve the SDG 6 related goal and targets and looked forward to working with all partners in the days ahead.

Eighty-six people, including heads-of-the-states/government chiefs of six countries, and ministers from 58 countries, participated in the meeting.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 24, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.