Please find below keynote address delivered by His Excellency President Baron Waqa at the 3rd Asia Pacific water summit in Yangon, Myanmar.
3rd Asia Pacific Water Summit Theme: Water Security for Sustainable Development Yangon, Myanmar 11 -12 December 2017
Keynote Address by His Excellency Baron Divavesi Waqa President of the Republic of Nauru
Her Excellency the State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
His Excellency the Vice President, U Li Henry Van Thio
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to you all!
From the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Government of Myanmar for the excellent arrangements and warm hospitality accorded to me and my delegation since our arrival. I am truly honoured to be here in this beautiful country.
Mr Chairman, we are here today to deliberate on a very important issue of water under the theme: Water Security for Sustainable Development.
Safe, clean and accessible water is critical to the social, cultural and economic well-being for all people. It is increasingly recognized that water security is central to the achievement of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. This recognition will soon be marked by the International Decade of Action – Water for Sustainable Development which will be launched in 2018.
Water scarcity continues to be an inherent challenge for countries around the world including the Asia Pacific Region. According to recent UN reports1, 660 million people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water and 2 billion people are affected by water stress.
We are no doubt living in an age of global phenomena and uncertainties related to climate change. We once thought we had the foresight in predicting future weather patterns – wet or dry – based on empirical knowledge. This is no longer the case, our weather is increasingly erratic and becoming unpredictable, altering animal biological cycles and patterns, increasing stress on our natural resources, to modifying financial and political decision making to accommodate for these changes.
Water insecurity is a day to day reality for the people of Nauru. Despite being surrounded by the greatest body of water on the planet, paradoxically, we live in an ocean of desert. We are geographically disadvantaged by the fact that we live in a part of the world that is called the doldrums – a region with lower than average rainfall. The severity of dry spells is exacerbated by climate change and this is a major threat not only to our water supply, but also to our ecosystems and our way of life. Nauru and the Pacific region are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and we need urgent and concrete action to mitigate its effect and its impact.
The challenges that face Nauru and the Pacific island countries are far and wide. Our region spreads over a vast expanse of ocean, and while some countries receive high rainfalls, others do not. The atoll countries and territories are the most susceptible to water shortages given that there is no potable surface water resources and underground water resources are limited to the small population it can sustain. In spite of these challenges, we cannot remain idle. We have to find solutions that are within our capacity to deliver.
The development of our National Water Sanitation and Hygiene Policy, a drought management strategy and a 20 year Water and Sanitation Master Plan, is expected to enhance our water management approach.
There is much to be done and Nauru welcomes the participation of development partners to help us better manage our water resources, and build our institutional and human resources capacity.
Strong country ownership of projects and financial backing is crucial to making further progress. We are determined to achieve the goals which we have set ourselves in regards to water and in this respect, we reaffirm our commitment to achieving the internationally agreed Goal 6 and this is – Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Within this spirit, I call on all nations to work together and set their differences apart and learn from one another. Some members of the international community such as Israel have been extremely successful with the management and development of their very limited water resources. Others such as the Netherlands have developed best practises for managing their abundance of water, and there are many examples around the world that are unique to the circumstances and the environment that they are in, and which our region and the world can certainly benefit from.
To conclude Mr. Chairman, I would like to acknowledge and thank our development partners and financial institutions for their continued and generous support to our water programs.
I also thank the Secretariat and the Japan Water Forum for its support and organisation of this important Summit, and we all look forward to further deliberations in the different sessions.
I thank you and wish you all a very successful Summit.