Your Excellency, Mr. Islam A. Karimov. President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Distinguished participants,
I am pleased to send greetings to this important Forum. I thank Uzbekistan for hosting.
I vividly remember my visit to the Aral Sea in 2010. I was horrified by the sight of so much desert where water used to flow.
Today, the Aral Sea is on the verge of disappearing entirely.
This loss would affect millions of people in Uzbekistan and beyond.
The root of the problem is poor water management.
We need to respond through more efficient local water use.
And we need national and regional cooperation to manage trans-boundary waters fairly.
The United Nations supports the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea.
Many UN agencies, including our Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, are working together to improve livelihoods, boost development and reduce health and environmental risks in the most affected areas.
I hope donors will support these efforts.
No single country can respond to the Aral Sea tragedy.
I call for intensifying the international response to this disaster, and I wish your meeting great success.