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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Water Action Decade Conference opens

Story by Abigirl Tembo

WORLD leaders and water experts who attended the official opening of the third Dushanbe Water Action Decade Conference in Tajikistan have vowed to tackle water scarcity through innovative technologies, water-saving practices and responsible water use across the globe.

The event, spearheaded by the Tajik government and the United Nations, aims to accelerate progress in achieving UN water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In his address, Tajikistan President, His Excellency Emamoli Rahmon underscored the urgency of the situation, emphasising the need for a global commitment to water security.

“For the last five years, we have been consistently witnessing the hottest years on our planet. According to reports, 2023 was recorded as the hottest year. There is a strong possibility that this is not all that is yet to come, and we will witness more record numbers in the next few years. It is worth noting that year by year, the share of water-related emergencies within the total number of natural disasters and the amount of damages caused is also increasing.

“For the last 20 years, this share has increased from  80 to 90 percent and the amount of damages has increased considerably. Just a few years ago we were talking about quadrupling efforts to achieve the six SDGs today according to the UN, we now need to instead increase our efforts six times to achieve this goal. We must strive for new and effective initiatives along with the fulfilment of our obligations  taken under the UN water conference to take significant actions.”

Zimbabwe’s Vice President, General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga, highlighted Zimbabwe’s dedication towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

“Zimbabwe is pleased to join the global community today, to take stock of progress made in implementing the voluntary commitments of the Water Action Agenda and outcomes of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference. In this regard, the government of Zimbabwe is committed to the targets of sustainable and safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). We are accelerating the implementation of the Water Action Decade under the pillars of governance, financing, data and information, innovation and capacity development as provided for in Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6).

“Zimbabwe has domesticated SDG 6 into the National Development Strategy 1, which is a vehicle to attain the country’s vision of a prosperous and empowered upper- middle-income society by 2030. The vision recognises WASH as a constitutional right.

“To implement Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water and Sanitation, our National Development Strategy 1 ensures the provision of water within the four thematic areas of food and nutrition; health and well-being; housing delivery; and infrastructure and utilities.

“To operationalise the thematic areas, an inter-Ministerial National Action Committee on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene focusing on a whole-of-government approach to sector coordination and WASH service delivery was constituted. The National Action Committee structure is decentralised to sub-national levels at provincial, district, ward and village levels, to ensure that no one and no place is left behind,” he said.

Representatives of various countries and UN agencies also delivered powerful messages, highlighting the growing pressure on water resources due to climate change and population growth.

“Water is the very essence of life. It is a catalyst for sustainable development, driving progress across every sphere of our lives, social, economic, and environmental. Water management is key to achieving the sustainable development agenda by 2030. Water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development; underpinning our efforts to address poverty and hunger, and to advance economic growth and environmental sustainability,” said the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Dennis Francis.

Zambia’s Vice President, Ms Mutale Nalumango said, “This conference allows us to reflect on what we have achieved in the past six years as well as to renew our commitments for urgent action towards in meeting our aspirations in the remaining four years which comes to an end on the 22nd of March 2028.

“We expect that this conference will be decisive in steering renewed motivation in raising awareness about critical issues that revolve around water in addressing poverty inequality climate change and environmental degradation as well as mobilizing support for action at all levels. Zambia is steadily implementing the freshwater challenge we expect that the freshwater challenge will play a notable role in accelerating national, regional, and global efforts to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems such as rivers, lakes springs and wetlands.”

The conference marks a significant step towards a more collaborative and sustainable approach to water security. The world’s attention is now firmly fixed on finding solutions to this critical issue. However, the success will depend on the nation’s ability to translate these commitments into concrete actions that benefit communities around the globe.

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