|‘Water is peace, life, dignity': why the UN deputy chief has a thirst for saving lives|
For almost a quarter of a century, UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson has been an indefatigable champion of the right to water and sanitation for all. »Politicians lack long-term planning«, he says. »They look at budgetary needs now but don’t see the larger picture. But they must look beyond their mandate periods. Ministers of finance should have responsibility for the long-term effects of public expenditure. [...] Water and sanitation cannot drop off the agenda now. There is such a commitment to it. You have the development community, the World Bank and the big development banks, but also the scientific and health communities along with civil society, and philanthropists all backing it.«
He is the UN deputy secretary general and was the Swedish foreign minister. He has brokered any number of deals between warring parties and negotiated the world’s development targets. But whatever he does, diplomat Jan Eliasson is happiest to be known as the “water man” – the individual who, for nearly 25 years, has ceaselessly pressed governments and the UN to lift water and sanitation up the global agenda.