Dushanbe, Tajikistan (9 June 2015)
Mr. Emomali Rahmon, Honourable President of Tajikistan,
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to express my profound gratitude to the people and the Government of Tajikistan for their warm hospitality in this beautiful city of Dushanbe.
We commend your initiative to hold this high-level Conference on Implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”. It is a most timely initiative for collective stocktaking, and to reaffirm our commitment to renewed global synergies to accomplish water-related internationally agreed goals.
Indeed, water is an absolute requirement for our existence and the survival of the ecosystem. It is,therefore, appropriate that we focus our attention on sustainable use of this vital source of life.
That this source is finite is a major challenge. Global demand for water is ever increasing. Urbanization and climate change add to the complexities of the challenge.
Water is crucial for many of our goals, from poverty eradication and cross-sectoral economic growth to environmental sustainability and food and energy security.
Provision of safe and affordable water to all, sanitation, sustainable management of water resources, investment in water infrastructure, and trans-boundary cooperation have been some of the issues on the global agenda for quite some time.
The Decade for Action has brought water-related issues further to the centre stage.
I am pleased to recall that Pakistan was one of the co-sponsors of the UN Resolution that established the International Decade.
On the eve of completion of the International Decade, we can identify several milestones to take note of our collective efforts.
Importantly, the MDG target of “halving, by 2015, the proportion of population without safe drinking water and sanitation”, was met well ahead of time.
The UN has recognized access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right.
There is now much better awareness at national, regional and global levels about water’s impact on life and our planet.
I must appreciate the leadership and vision of President Rahmon who has invested personal efforts to further the global water agenda in the past years, through various concrete measures to promote awareness, and catalyse partnerships at all levels.
We also fully support the President’s proposal to launch a New International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”. I would suggest we call it International Decade for Enhanced Action “Water for Sustainable Development for All”.
Efforts of the UN system, including UN-Water, and other international and regional organizations also merit our acknowledgment.
Looking forward, we must learn from the experience of the Decade, especially the gaps in implementation.
This Conference is a fresh reminder that the challenge is yet to be overcome. Our work is still not complete.
Millions remain without access to water, while for billions access to sanitation facilities continues to be an out-of-reach luxury.
By 2025, two third of the world’s population might be facing water-stress, as during the same period, water demand would shoot up by 40%.
The challenge is expected to be more intense for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
Risks of flooding and drought due to climatic and other factors, threaten lives and livelihoods undermining sustainable economic growth and prosperity.
We also need to promote new ways of trans-boundary cooperation on water, accommodating mutual interests, and building trust and confidence.
On the other hand, we have, on the eve of conclusion of the Decade, a reservoir of successes to draw upon and get inspiration from.
Later this year, we will adopt in New York an ambitious and transformative universal Post-2015 Development Agenda. Water constitutes the core of sustainable development as it has impact on all its three dimensions.
Being host to some of the world’s biggest glaciers, and at the same time one of the most climate-vulnerable and a ‘water-stressed’ country, and also because the Agriculture-sector is the backbone of our national economy, it is but natural that Pakistan should attach high importance to water related issues.
We have made steady progress in improving access to safe drinking water, in pursuance of the MDGs.On sanitation, the progress is relatively modest. We are very much conscious of the economic impact of inadequate sanitation.
Pakistan is committed to achieving 100% access to improved drinking water and sanitation and sufficient and unhindered supply for various purposes - domestic, agriculture and industrial - through implementation of sectoral development plans and strengthening institutional capacities with well-defined human resource development plans.
In addition, expanding existing infrastructure, improving governance and efficient management of water resources and use, including through use of modern technology, investing in improving water quality and most importantly, safeguarding our national water resources, constitute some of our fundamental priorities in the water sector.
Our Vision 2025 includes the objective of inclusive growth through water security, value addition, research, modernization and best practices of water management.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is heartening that, together, we have secured a comprehensive goal on water in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, which will be the operational part of the new Agenda for the next 15 years.
The challenge once again will be to ensure its meaningful implementation.
We will need to draw upon multiple best examples for enhanced national, regional and global cooperation on water and sanitation-related challenges.
We will need an integrated, coordinated and balanced approach with strengthened regional and global partnership at all levels to ensure effective implementation of the renewed water related goals, targets and commitments. Provision of enhanced means of implementation will be critical in this regard. Resource mobilization, capacity-building and technological assistance will require special attention.
I am sure these and many other important aspects will be the subject of our deliberations here.
In conclusion, Water is one of the main pre-requisites to succeed globally in our march towards a prosperous and sustainable ‘future we want’ for our present and future generations.
Let me assure our full support for the success of the Conference under the able stewardship of our hosts Tajikistan.
I thank you.