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World Water Week opens with call to include water in next climate change talks

The 25th World Water Week kicked off yesterday in the Swedish capital with calls to ensure water crisis is given more importance at the upcoming climate change talks for a better future for all.


Torgny Holmgren, The Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). Photo: Selay M. Kouassi
Torgny Holmgren, The Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). Photo: Selay M. Kouassi
Over 3000 delegates from 130 countries and regions of the world are attending the week-long meeting (August 23 - 29), whose central theme is: “Water for Development”.

The gathering, which brings together high-level government officials, financial institutions and water experts from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society representatives, comes at a critical moment, as United Nations member states prepare to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September and reach a universal climate change agreement in December.
 
In his welcome address, Torgny Holmgren, The Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) demanded that water be given higher profile at Paris climate talks. “Climate change manifests through water, too much or too little of it, and it is high time that the reality enters the rooms of negotiators,” he declared. 

A point echoed by Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister of Sweden, who said: “when the international community is shaping a new sustainable development agenda, water management and allocation must be at its heart; not only as a separate goal but as an essential vehicle for development and health.”
 
The opening ceremony was attended by eminent guests including the President Christopher J. Loek of Marshall Islands and Prime Minister Abdulla Ensour of Jordan who certainly had delivered the most emotional statements of the event.
 
Speaking of the impact of global warming on his country, President Loek said: “We are a small country quite literally contemplating a future where we are being wiped off the world map. Yet, as the leader of my country I cannot look my people in the eyes and in good conscience say that everything will be ok, when I know the world continues to travel down a very destructive path”. President Loek explained how water is threatening his people and described how they are fighting for a better future. “I urge you all to join us on the water front” he appealed to delegates.  

Coming from an equally alarming water crisis situation, Prime Minister Abdulla Ensour of Jordan put a huge stress on extreme water problem mixed with a refugee influx that plague his country. He called for a greater emphasis to be placed on water during the coming global climate change talks, not merely at the policy level but to ensure that policies are enacted. He condemned the situation in which policies only look good on paper but do not translate into substantive action.
 
Delegates who gathered at the fully packed Auditorium of Stockholm City Centre shared Torgny Holmgren’s optimism as he declared: “It is my hope that in 25 years from now we will no longer talk about global water crisis because we will have developed ways to sustainability uses our water resources.”
 
Selay M.K.

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