‘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

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.

“I got angry,” he says, by way of explaining his commitment to a cause that has not always been high on UN or government agendas.

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