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UN: Water agenda an integral part of foreign policy, says Bonino

“The water agenda must be an integral part of our foreign policy. Because a water agenda means an agenda for peace, social inclusion, rights and development. Investing in water is also a way to foster growth”. These were the words of Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, speaking at a meeting of the UNSG’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). The meeting was held in the run-up to Expo 2015, whose theme will be “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

Including water among the Sustainable Development Goals

The UN has proclaimed 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. Expo Milan too “has selected water as a central aspect of the event”, noted Bonino. She announced that Italy “looks favourably on including a specific goal relating to water and basic sanitation services as one of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Access to water and human rights

Italy needs “an integrated approach to the issue of water, which is closely connected to other global challenges. Challenges such as agriculture and food security, climate change, education, health and gender equality”. Indeed, defending women’s rights will also involve “improving their basic living conditions”, added Minister Bonino.

Expo Milan a festival of integration and an opportunity to revitalise the country

Expo Milan could become “a joyful festival of cultural integration […] because sharing food” from all over the world “will be a special way to discover different cultures and respect the people who created the various recipes. […] Italy’s aim is to use Milan as a global platform for its centuries-old food culture and its respect for the environment and the land”.

The Expo will also be “a major revitalisation opportunity” for Italy, underscored the Minister. She cited a report by Bocconi University, which forecasts that the event “will generate 10.5 billion euros in additional GDP; 199,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2020; 4.8 billion euros in added value for tourism flows; and 1.7 billion in production by new companies set up specifically for the event”.

MFA engaged in attracting participants: 129 so far

The Foreign Ministry “is strongly engaged in staging the Expo, including through its initiative to pave the way for international participants. So far, 129 countries and international organisations have signed up to take part. With less than 2 years to go until the event, we are already close to reaching the goal that the Italian Government established with the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE)in 2008, of 130 participants”, concluded Minister Bonino.