President of the Republic of Tajikistan

Statement at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit “Water Security and Water-related Disaster Challenges: Leadership and Commitment”

19.05.2013 08:40, Thailand

Distinguished participants of the Summit,
Ladies and Gentlemen,       

I first of all would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand for the invitation, for the warm welcome and for excellent organization of the 2nd Asia – Pacific Water Summit.

Similar to the 1st Asia – Pacific Water Summit that was held in December 2007 in the picturesque city of Beppu, Japan, today’s meeting is likewise aimed at achieving one of the key goals of modern world - water security. There is no doubt that special emphasis on the agenda of water-related natural disasters, along with enhanced leadership and commitments undertaken in this direction, will remarkably contribute to the successful achievement of goals on water security and to addressing other numerous water-related issues.

Today the international community is looking for new ways of achieving sustainable development.

The Rio+20 Conference has laid down a solid foundation for the development and coordination of sustainable development goals, and governments are currently intensely discussing this process.

Special attention in this process is given to the achievement of goals on water-related issues since the international community has got convinced that the achievement of other development goals also depends on the availability of water resources, their quality and on integrated water resources management.

Distinguished participants of the Summit,

It is obvious that individual countries and regions of the world have different approaches to water security, which are determined by nature, climate, socio-economic, political and other conditions.

I in this connection would like to refer to the case of Central Asia, where solution of the water security challenges is linked with the following factors:

  1. Unequal distribution of water resources in the countries of the region;
  2. Expected reduction of water resources for the mid- and long-term perspectives as a result of an impact of climate change;
  3. Increase in water consumption in the aftermath of the population growth and growing economic dynamism;
  4. Increase in frequency of water-related natural disasters and on-going degradation of the Aral Sea; and
  5. Insignificant cooperation of countries of the region on water and energy related issues.

Over 80 % of water resources in the region is originated on the territory of the two upstream countries, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, while 85% of this amount is used by the downstream countries.

More than that, the interests of the upstream and downstream nations on the seasonal utilization of water resources do not always coincide, which give rise to certain disagreements and disputes.

The situation has become more sophisticated by the impact of a climate change that has already caused a considerable shrinkage of snowcaps and glaciers in the region.

Suffice it to indicate, that thousand glaciers out of fourteen thousand in Tajikistan have irreversibly been vanished over the last 30 years. Probable reduction of river flowage in the mid- and long-term prospects is likely to deteriorate the situation.

Current dynamic of the population growth in the region, which is among the highest in the world, comprises 1,5% to 2,5% annually and economic development on the whole needs large amount of resources to meet an ever-increasing demand for water.

Water-related natural disasters, which annually inflict damage worth of hundreds of millions of US dollars, even more complicate the current situation. Over the last three years, damage caused by natural disasters only in Tajikistan 93% of territory of which is mountainous is estimated at the amount exceeding 700 million US dollars.

Along with heavy economic damage, natural disasters almost every year cause large number of civilian casualties.

As far as the Aral Sea desiccation is concerned, the scale of this ecological disaster has for a long time been known for all, however, regrettably, we still cannot speak on the improvement of the situation yet.

It is crystal obvious, that mutually advantageous regional cooperation could become a key mechanism for solution of this problem.

At present, current relationship among the Central Asian states are insignificant and are too remote from trustworthy and partnership relations.

If indeed constructive and fruitful cooperation could have been established among the countries of the region, we then would be able to notably mitigate an impact of any kinds of threats and challenges and facilitate the process of achieving water security.

Our region has tremendous opportunities to ensure food, energy and water security and, at the same time, to protect and improve environmental sustainability. However, due to the lack of strong cooperation on water, countries of the region are currently facing with water-related difficulties.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have declared time and again, and I take this opportunity to reaffirm, that Tajikistan is strongly committed to peaceful solution of the aforementioned issues.

We stand ready for strong cooperative relations with all neighboring countries and other stakeholders for shared use of water resources which comprise nearly 60% of water resources of whole region.

Efficient and successful development of enormous water and hydro energy resources of Tajikistan, which are considered to be one of the richest in the world, could bring in giant socio-economic benefit to all countries of the region.

The hydropower potential of our country is estimated at 527 billion kWh per year, only 3 to 4 percent of which is being used currently. Rational use of this tremendous potential would enable in future to ensure adequate seasonal and long-term regulation of water resources.

Under the circumstances of ever-increasing impact of climate change and other regional challenges, effective water resources management will promote achievement of water security, and will build up capacity for production of discounted and environmentally friendly energy, as well as reduce flood risks and mitigate an adverse effect of drought and low-water seasons, cut carbon dioxide emission and recover environment in the region.

All these grounds and opportunities fully comply with international conventions and international legal instruments, particularly the Kyoto Protocol and testify Tajikistan’s constructive approach that encourages countries to fulfill commitments they have undertaken.

All these measures in aggregate will lay down a solid and reliable foundation for achieving water security and will strengthen interstate cooperation, which is a major factor in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Excellencies heads of delegations,

Distinguished participants of the Summit,

The international community whilst looking for ways to address the global water challenges with regard to water-related disaster risk reduction is guided not only by the Millennium Development Goals, but also by the goals and objectives set forth by the International Decade of Action “Water for Life” and Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015.

We are convinced that while developing Sustainable Development Goals, international community will take into account a multidimensional and all-embracing role of water.

In our view, other internationally agreed water-related goals that have been adopted by global community in recent decade should also be taken into consideration.

I do believe that in the process of an implementation of these lofty goals, we all will be able to exercise specific projects and programs aimed at elimination of water-related problems faced by our nations, and identify water related risks and challenges, and as well as establish effective ways and mechanisms of further solution of water-problems at local, regional and global levels.

In this context, as the initiator of the most important UNGA water resolutions, such as the International Year of Fresh Water – 2003, the International Decade of Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015, and the International Year of Water Cooperation – 2013, Tajikistan believes that the time has come to develop a “Global Water Vision”.

A “Global Water Vision” should include not only the internationally agreed strategic goals in the field of water resources, but has to also embrace practical ways and approaches towards implementation of the goals on water supply, on water resources management and on water security.

In addition, a “Global Water Vision” should also be brought in compliance with other strategies and contemporary approaches of addressing global threats and challenges of the 21st century, in particular, with the concept of “Green Economy” and Sustainable Development Goals.

Distinguished participants of the Summit,

In conclusion, I would like to once again draw your attention to the necessity of development of water cooperation as a key component for ensuring water security.

As you might be aware, on the initiative of Tajikistan, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the year 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation.

This year is a time of unique opportunity to coordinate our efforts and actions aimed at enhancement of an inclusive dialogue and mutual understanding, at strengthening of partnership and cooperation at all levels and among all parties concerned.

This year, on August 20-21 our country will host the International High-Level Conference on Water Cooperation.

We will have the opportunity on the sidelines of this Conference to demonstrate efforts our countries undertake on water and conduct useful exchange of views on practical aspects of collaboration and strong partnership relations in tackling water issues and ways to address water-related challenges.

The Conference will be focused on promotion of specific actions and on identification of mechanisms for successful implementation of recommendations developed on the basis of the outcomes of a large number of meetings and functions on the margins of the International Year of Water Cooperation, including on the outcomes of this Summit.

I take this opportunity and invite all of you to actively partake at the Dushanbe Conference and to make a notable contribution to the achievement of its goals and objectives.

Thank you for attention!

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