Welcoming and Opening Remarks by H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Opening Ceremony of the 3rd APWS
11th Dec 2017, Sedona Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Myanmar, I am happy to welcome all of you to the Third Asia-Pacific Water Summit (3rd APWS).
It is an honour for Myanmar to host this Asia-Pacific Water Summit in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF). The convening of this event is most timely as the 72nd United Nations General Assembly recently decided to proclaim the period 2018 to 2028 the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”. The aim of this Decade is to emphasize the sustainable development, and integrated management, of water resources, and to strengthen cooperation and partnership at all levels, with a view to promoting the speedy achievement of internationally agreed water-related goals and targets.
This event provides an excellent opportunity for sharing our visions, and our views on the future implementation of the “Water for Sustainable Development” Decade. I hope that the Summit will also provide a platform where our partners in the Asia and Pacific Region can share their experiences of water-related enterprises and together conceive better ideas for integrated water resources management.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Asia is home to half of the world’s poorest people. Water for agriculture continues to consume 80% of water resources – even more in Myanmar, where about 91% of water resources is consumed by the agriculture sector. Today a staggering 1.7 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. With a predicted population of 5.2 billion by 2050 and 22 megacities by 2030, the region’s finite water resources will come under enormous pressure—especially because of increasing climate variability. Recent estimates indicate that as many as 3.4 billion people could be living in water-stressed areas of Asia by 2050.
From the perspective of the regional economy, as reported in the Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2016, this region generated two-fifths of global GDP (in 2011 purchasing power parity terms) in 2015. However, there are remarkable disparities between individual economies.
In spite of our growing prosperity on the global scale, 330 million people still live on less than US$ 1.9 a day; roughly 300 million people in our region do not have access to safe drinking water; and over the past decade, the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions grew faster than the global average. Clearly, there is a great deal of room for improvement.
The Asia-Pacific Region is the most water-related disaster prone region in the world. The rising frequency of water-related disasters in our region has forced us to respond with unity and resilience but there is a wide variety in the degree and quality of response of individual nations. Obviously, all governments in the region need to do more to cope with the growing disaster threat caused by climate change, but according to an ADB report only a number of countries have been investing wisely in disaster risk reduction projects and programmes. Collaboration between the countries in the region will enable all to combat water-related disasters more effectively.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is universally accepted that water is life. Water is the essential ingredient for a nation’s economic growth. Water can bring wealth and prosperity, and water is also a means of forging trust and solidarity. Thus, water can impact both positively and negatively on Nation Building. To increase the positive impacts of water while decreasing the negative, we can focus on two activities as our priorities. The first is the creation of a water-based economy, and the second is investment in water-related disaster risk management as preventive measures constitute important and effective tools. As we engage in these two activities, financing, regional and international collaboration and partnership will be triggered.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Myanmar is a committed partner and a host of this Third Asia-Pacific Water Summit, I would like to touch on our water vision, and endeavours, and the progress that we have made.
Myanmar has abundant water resources and our hydropower potential is considerable. However, that abundance does not mean that we have no water scarcity. Our water problems are different from those in the arid regions. But we do have a dry zone, a semi-arid region, in the centre of the country. That has added to the diversity of climate conditions in Myanmar and also to its assorted water problems. To put it simply, we do not get enough water when, and where, we need it. This is mainly due to uneven distribution of rainfall, changing pattern of hydrological conditions and climate change.
Water demand in our cities has increased as population and urbanization increased. Our water demand in rural areas has also increased due to expanding cultivation and other rural-based economic activities. Moreover, new water demand for the Special Economic Zones and industrial estates have added to the pressure on our natural water resources. We need energy to get water and water to produce energy. Food security is based on water and energy availability. Thus, we need to ensure the smooth functioning of our hydrological cycle, the water-energy-food-ecosystem nexus which has been discussed at various fora here in Myanmar.
It is clear that water is the main driver of sustainable development. Myanmar is drafting the overarching Myanmar National Water Law with the assistance of the World Bank and this will enter the public consultation process very soon. The National Water Resources Committee is responsible for two highly important tasks, water-based economy transformation, and water related disaster risks reduction in complete cycle; the National Disaster Management Committee takes care of the relief and resettlement parts of emergency situations during floods and droughts. The NWRC has three pillars, the Secretariat, the Advisory Group and the Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC). These three pillars work together to step up measures to increase water security in Myanmar and to find ways and means of materialising this goal. The Government, Corporate, Society (GCS) partnership offers considerable opportunities for water-based enterprises. We will promote GCS partnership within the framework of Integrated Water Resources Management in Myanmar.
Our Government continues to provide better security, and to develop the necessary policy and legal framework for water-related investments to flourish in this country. I would like to invite potential investors, both domestic and international, to engage with the NWRC and the NDMC on how best they might participate in and benefit from, the water sector enterprises of our country.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, I would like to underline the crucial role of water security for the overall wellbeing of all humankind and for the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I hope that this Summit will provide important inputs for future policy roadmaps to facilitate sustainable development by enhancing water security.
Our commitment is clear and straightforward. I believe that together we will succeed in making safe and sustainable water management an important part of water security for sustainable development. We can assure you of our cooperation and partnership in Integrated Water Resources Management.
On behalf of the Government and People of Myanmar, I thank all of you for participating in the 3rd Asia-Pacific Water Summit and committing to implement its deliverables. Let us embrace our shared vision, the Yangon Declaration. With political will and the support of all stakeholders, we can surely achieve water security for all in our region.
With these thoughts and words, I now officially open the 3rd Asia Pacific Water Summit together with fellow Heads of State and Government here today.
I wish you a successful summit.
I wish all of you a pleasant stay in Myanmar.