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Nation shares water-governance practices

By MINLU ZHANG at the United Nations | | Updated: 2023-03-23 23:44
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Workers clean up rubbish on Dianchi Lake in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Minister of Water Resources Li Guoying said on Wednesday that China adheres to the new development concept of innovation, coordination, going green, openness and sharing, and the country has made great progress in realizing the water-related goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Li made the remarks in a speech at the United Nations Water Conference, the organization's first such event in almost five decades, which runs through Friday at its headquarters in New York.

The minister, who is leading a delegation of water experts to the conference, said China has fully implemented its national water-saving action plan. With only 6 percent of the world's freshwater resources, the country has guaranteed water supply for nearly 20 percent of the global population and generated more than 18 percent of the world's total economic output, he said.

Among the major progress China has made in terms of implementing the water-related goals of the UN 2030 Agenda is the promotion of the integration of urban and rural water supply networks, the centralized water supply system and the standardized construction of small-scale water projects, Li said while addressing the general debate at the conference's plenary session.

The country has fully implemented the mechanism of river and lake chiefs, a network of leading officials responsible for monitoring the condition of specific water bodies. There are 1.2 million such officials performing these duties across the country, Li said.

"China also actively promotes international exchanges and cooperation, and continues to support developing countries in improving water governance and water supply capabilities," he added.

Based on the country's practices and experiences in implementing the water-related goals of the 2030 Agenda, Li put forward four proposals.

First, efforts should be made to ensure the basic right of all people to have access to safe drinking water, especially those living in remote rural areas that are affected by poverty and drought.

"Residents of remote villages cannot obtain this right solely through individual efforts. Governments, social organizations and even the international community should provide support and assistance for equitable access to this basic right," the minister said.

Li's second proposal involves full understanding of the finiteness and irreplaceability of freshwater resources.

"This requires residents of the global village to jointly fulfill the obligations and responsibilities of sustainably utilizing freshwater resources, and to actively promote and realize agricultural water conservation and efficiency enhancement, industrial water conservation and emission reduction, and urban energy conservation," he said.

His third proposal is to "respect the basic rights of rivers in nature, regard rivers as life forms, construct river ethics, maintain the healthy life of rivers and realize the harmonious coexistence of people and rivers".

Fourth, he said that facing the challenges of the intensifying global climate change and its impact, it is necessary to fully utilize the role of UN agencies and provide a platform for communication and collaboration among governments, international organizations, think tanks, social organizations and other stakeholders to participate in the global response to climate change according to their respective strengths.

This will enable the gathering of wisdom and strength to address water disasters and tackle problems in such issues as water resources, water environment and water ecology, he added.

About 6,000 people from more than 200 countries and international organizations are attending the UN Water Conference.

The three-day event will have six plenary meetings, five interactive dialogue meetings and more than 200 side meetings, marking the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the objectives of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development (2018-28), according to the UN.

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