Presidency: Make water central to development policy

Jun 08, 2011

The future reform of the European Union’s development policy must focus on water. This is the central statement of the Hungarian Presidency’s report, which was presented by Deputy State Secretary for Global Affairs János Hóvári at the meeting of development ministers on 24 May 2011, in Brussels.

The Hungarian Presidency adopted it as a priority, both in the field of environmental protection and international development policy, to call the attention of Member States on issues related to water. In its relevant report, the Hungarian Presidency explored ways for the EU development policy to promote sustainable water resources management and consequently the inclusive growth and social development of developing countries.
The document, which was presented by Deputy State Secretary for Global Affairs, János Hóvári received endorsement from participants at the meeting of development ministers. Mr Hóvári stressed: the Presidency’s aim is to make sustainable water resource management a horizontal element in the EU’s cooperation programs for development, in the reform of the EU’s development policy, and to mainstream water into relevant policies and initiatives, be it the agriculture, health, education or energy policy sector for example.
Although the EU considers water related issues as priorities since the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development of 2002 in Johannesburg, and both the Commission and Member States provide various supports to developing countries’ water sector, the work is still not enough, since the level of political will and finance is insufficient.
The Hungarian Presidency has prepared several proposals. For instance, it has invited the Commission to draw up a water policy for developing countries during the reform of the EU development policy; and to determine a comprehensive action plan. It also recommends for the Commission to pay particular attention in its initiatives, regarding water needing to remain a central point of growth and sustainability in EU policies.
On the 21st EU–ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, on 14–18 May in Budapest, the initiative of the Presidency met a positive response. Moreover, in its resolution the Assembly’s Committee on Social and Environmental Affairs, expressed that national governments are responsible to ensure safe
drinking water and sanitation.
According to the Presidency’s document, water plays a key role in the social and economic development of countries, especially amid current global challenges such as climate change, growing population, food shortage and increasing energy prices. Two thirds of the surface of Earth is covered by water, however about 97 percent of global water resources is composed of saline oceans water, and only 3 percent of freshwater.
The majority of all the Earth's water resources is locked up in glaciers and icecaps, so only 1 percent of entire fresh water supply is useable for humans. As global population grows, the „blue gold” becomes an invaluable treasure, and any shortage of it could threaten the stability of entire regions.

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