Mr. Liu Zhenmin Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Opening Remarks
1st Cairo Water Week - “Water Conservation for Sustainable Development”

Your Excellency Dr. Mostafa Madbouli, Prime Minister of Egypt,
Your Excellency Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Atty, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honour and pleasure to join you today in the inauguration of the first Cairo Water Week.

I take this opportunity to commend His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, for his leadership in convening this important high-level conference.

Water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development. The range of services they provide underpins poverty reduction, economic growth and a healthy ecosystem.

However, in the world today, our communities are confronted with mounting water-related challenges.

Climate change, pollution and the growing demand for water are adding up to scarcity and an even greater challenge to sustainable development.

One third of the world’s population already lives in countries with water stress.

Indeed, we are witnessing more frequent and intense periods of drought, which are devastating communities in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region, the drylands of East Asia and Central Asia and many other parts of the planet.

As the impact of climate change grows, so will the prospects of even further stress of water.

If we continue on this current path, the world may face a 40 percent shortfall in water availability by 2030, with 1.8 billion people living with absolute water scarcity already by 2025!

Excellencies,
We must approach our work ahead with a sense of urgency.
Time has come to change the way we think about water, the way we manage and appreciate water.

A number of international instruments point the way forward.

Water is at the heart of recent milestone agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the 2015 Paris Agreement for climate change.

Last March, the International Decade 2018-2028 for Water Action was launched at the United Nations headquarters. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres presented an Action Plan to facilitate the implementation of the Water Decade, in cooperation with Governments and other relevant stakeholders.

In this connection, I also draw your attention to the outcome of High-Level Panel on Water, convened by the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group, which called for a new approach with actions to transform our water challenges into opportunities.

Among all international forums on water, Cairo Water Week presents a unique opportunity to answer this call. Stakeholders can announce actions, engage in collaborative initiatives, and exchange experiences for better management of our scarce water resources.

Distinguished Participants,

In the upcoming days, you will have occasions to discuss how to overcome our water-related challenges, promote awareness related to water conservation and sustainable development. You can foster innovative ideas and actions towards integrated water resources management.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in cooperation with Itaipu Bi-national, launched an innovative initiative to promote water and energy sustainability in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The initiative calls for a global “Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions” network on interlinkages between energy and water, with members from all regions and constituencies.

We very much welcome your high-level engagement in this initiative to enhance capacities and support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals on water and energy in a holistic manner.

Indeed, collaborative partnerships that promote policy dialogue and best practices can help accelerate implementation of the universal 2030 Agenda and its core pledge to leave no one behind.

Water connects us, unites us. Let us work together for a sustainable future.
I wish the First Cairo Water Week a great success! Thank you.

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