Statement by the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon
at the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Symposium on SDG 6 and Targets: Ensuring that No One is Left Behind in Access to Water and Sanitation
(Dushanbe, 09 August 2016)
Distinguished UN Under-Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to sincerely welcome all participants of the High-Level Symposium on SDG 6 and Targets: Ensuring that No One is Left Behind in Access to Water and Sanitation.
Today’s Forum, which is being held by the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan and the United Nations, will provide a good opportunity to discuss the ways and methods of overcoming challenges, related to implementation of the global development agenda by focusing on water related goals.
Exchange of opinion on the issues related to implementation of our commitments in sustainable development is the requirement of the day.
In this regard, I would like to extend my gratitude to the United Nations and other relevant institutions for their assistance and support in preparation for this Symposium.
The year of 2015 was memorable in terms of development and approval of the Global Development Agenda.
In this year, the world community has adopted a number of important documents, constituting the main framework of the global development agenda.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Addis-Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development for post 2015 period, the Sustainable Development Agenda to 2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are among those documents.
All of these documents are interrelated with each other in terms of goals and objectives and they identify the direction of humanity development for the next decade.
In this regard, the above-mentioned documents are the logical continuation of the global programs such as the MDGs, the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Kyoto Protocol, which complement the scope of objectives and commitments reflected in them with new joint initiatives.
I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to outline some points about the United Nations’ final document on sustainable development.
In our opinion, the new sustainable development agenda, which is developed on the basis of the United Nations’ Charter, Human Rights and Development Declaration, as well as other UN documents, covers the dreams and desires of all people of the world and every citizen of the globe for the decent and secure future.
One of the peculiarities of the new document is the integration of goals and objectives related to socio-economic development and protection of environment, which are three main pillars of sustainable development.
The agenda also covers the diversity of our world, which is of key importance for development and expansion alongside with the biodiversity.
At this point, I would like to emphasize about the SDG 6, which is dedicated to the issue of everybody’s access to water and sanitation.
This goal alongside with the necessity of ensuring everybody’s access to drinking water and sanitation also covers the issues of water quality, its effective use, implementation of integrated water resources management, protection of water ecosystem, as well as expansion of water cooperation and partnership.
In addition to this, water related part of SDGs identifies separate objectives ensuring the integration of the Goal 6 with other goals of SDGs.
Thus, a conclusion can be made that water resources management is a key point in the new global development agenda.
We consider this achievement as a significant result of the joint efforts made by Governments, UN agencies, international financial institutions, academia and the civil society over the recent years.
It is worth noting that our joint efforts in this regard started as early as within the preparation for Rio+20 Conference.
Particularly at that time, more than fifty UN member states came together within the Water Friends Group in New York to work on promotion of water issues reflected in the new development agenda.
I would like to avail this opportunity to thank all esteemed members of the Water Friends Group and its Steering Committee, whose representatives are present here, for their effective efforts in development and approval of the global water agenda.
The High-level International Conference on implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015 was held in Dushanbe in June 2015.
The Conference final document – Dushanbe Declaration – emphasized the important role of the “Water for Life” Decade in achievement of water related goals and objectives of MDGs.
In our opinion, the Decade has promoted to the improvement of awareness of the civil society, expansion of cooperation at the national, regional and international levels, public-private partnership, involvement of women, youth, representatives of academia and businesses in addressing the challenges related to water resources management.
At the same time, we need to review the Decade’s achievements and success, as well as shortcomings and gaps in the process of implementation of its objectives while implementing the new global development agenda.
For this purpose, last year in April, we proposed to launch a new International Decade under the motto “Water for Sustainable Development” to continue the world community’s efforts in addressing water related issues.
In our opinion, such an initiative would facilitate drawing more thorough attention to implementation of SDG 6 and Targets.
I hope that the participants of the Symposium will provide their concrete recommendations to support this initiative.
Last year the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation completed its activities.
This Board, having summarized its operation over the recent years, provided its recommendations and proposals to strengthen the global water architecture.
Given the importance of continuing efforts in implementation of SDG 6, the Board’s recommendations and proposals meet the requirements of the modern time and promote addressing water related challenges.
Therefore, we need to make further efforts to ensure coordination between the new decade and other international initiatives in this area.
The experience shows that the objectives can be achieved only in case when effective tools and specific plans for the implementation are in place.
In this regard, it is necessary to incorporate the SDG 6 into the national sustainable development strategy of countries as a core component by taking into account the specific features of each country.
For Tajikistan, which has scarce land resources, rational and effective use of water resources is of fundamental importance to enhance socio-economic sustainable development, particularly, to reduce poverty, ensure food and energy security, as well as develop the industry and agriculture.
Therefore, the issue of water resources management is of particular importance in our National Development Strategy, which is currently being improved and finalized by experts.
At the beginning of this year by the initiative of the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank the High Level Panel on Water was established by involvement of the heads of ten UN member states, including Tajikistan.
I hope that the Panel will play a significant role as a platform for discussion and consideration of the key global issues on water.
In our opinion, while discussing the SDG 6, the following issues need to be taken into account:
First, negative impact of climate change on water resources may impede our efforts in achieving SDGs.
According to reliable assessments, including studies of the UN relevant agencies, the temperature is increasing at the global level.
This trend can cause up to two trillion USD of loss to the global economy annually.
Tajikistan, where almost 60% of Central Asia’s water resources get accumulated, is also affected by the negative impact of climate change.
Almost, 30% of Tajikistan’s glaciers have melted during the last ten years, and this trend is continuing.
In this period, only the Fedchenko glacier, the biggest continental glacier in Tajikistan has reduced by 2 cubic kilometers.
At the same time, this year due to the low water season in the main rivers of the region, including in Amudarya and Sirdarya, it is expected that water accumulation will reduce by 30%, and this situation will affect the water supply process in the countries of the region.
This means that the countries of the region need to introduce specific regional programs on regional water resources management based on equality and mutual understanding.
With regard to the impact of climate change, the frequency of water related natural disasters in Tajikistan has increased over the recent years, which annually causes significant financial loss and casualties.
Natural disasters cause unexpected loss to the country’s economy and create barriers against our efforts in ensuring socio-economic sustainable development.
Second, growth of the world population and growing demand in water resources create new challenges for the world community.
Thus, growing demand in water may lead to serious challenges in relations between various sectors of economy, which in its term, can lead to serious negative consequences even within one country.
Therefore, within the world water scarcity, the competition for access to water resources will negatively impact on the process of ensuring sustainable development and welfare of individual countries.
In such a situation, in our opinion, introduction of integrated water resources management would provide new opportunities for improvement and strengthening of existing water cooperation formats at different levels.
Third, it is necessary to take into account the gender aspect in water resources management.
Accordingly, we need to make more efforts to involve women and girls in the process of development and strengthen their role in management and protection of water resources.
Fourth, implementation of all plans and actions depend on ensuring the relevant financial, investment and technical resources in a timely manner.
It is obvious that in the current situation, the world community needs to reform the global cooperation and bring it line with the new reality for the sake of future sustainable development.
With regard to this, enhancement of scientific and technological cooperation is one of the important aspects of our joint efforts for effective implementation of programs and projects on effective use of water resources.
Wide use of the latest technologies in this process is one of the efficient tools for water saving and water loss reduction.
Fifth, transnational water cooperation is one of the key factors to ensure peace, stability and development.
At present there are more than 276 transnational river basins in the world covering 148 countries and more than 70% of the world’s population.
Ensuring effective water cooperation may serve as a driver for the development of countries in these basins.
In contrary, lack of such cooperation may cause serious threats, which will negatively affect the countries’ economic and social situation.
Countries in our region use water resources from two main rivers – Amudarya and Sirdarya and also a number of small transboundary rivers.
The region’s water resources are formulated mainly in two countries and they are mostly used in the other downstream countries.
In this context, decent cooperation in sustainable management and use of water resources is a key factor to ensure sustainable socio-economic development of the countries of the region.
By signing several important agreements, the countries of the region managed to ensure water supply activities acceptable for all stakeholders in the difficult period of transition to the market economy.
At the same time, we still have a great platform for regional cooperation on the use of water and energy resources by taking into account the interests of all countries in the region.
The use of this potential in its full capacity may become an influential factor towards leading the countries of the region to sustainable development.
By committing to just and rational use of water resources, we consider the constant implementation of water cooperation diplomacy as the only efficient tool for achievement of these noble objectives.
Accordingly, Tajikistan stands ready to establish and expand mutually beneficial cooperation with all interested countries at the regional and international levels.
In the current context, it is clear that the process of transition to sustainable development will be challenging and complicated for a number of countries in the world.
Therefore, undertaking joint efforts and supporting the countries, which face challenges in this process, would guarantee successful implementation of the new global development agenda.
In this regard, supporting the group of countries with special needs, including landlocked and small island developing countries, is important for implementation of their national development programs.
In conclusion, I would like to wish to all of us progress in achieving the noble goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda and success to the Symposium.
Thank You for Your attention.