Asia Pacific leaders call for efficient use of water resources

By The Nation | Source: ANN
The second Asia-Pacific Water Summit (APWS) ended yesterday with two versions of the Chiang Mai Declaration.

The official declaration by leaders of 40 countries highlighted the need to encourage the inclusion of disaster risk reduction in the United Nations’ development agenda beyond 2015, upgrade regional cooperation, promote the efficient use of water resources, and forge better partnerships between the government and all other stakeholders in water-resource management and development.

The unofficial one, issued by the People’s Network of North and Northeastern River Basins, also called for an integrated approach to water management that involved cooperation from all stakeholders.

Both versions came at a time when people in the region have become acutely aware of water-related threats, including disasters, and the need for cooperation, in the wake of a massive flood in 2011.

APWS members are now expected to increase transfers of technology and enhance capacity building and knowledge sharing to optimise manifold use of water and minimise adverse impacts from water-related risks and disasters on people’s livelihood.

Rapid urbanisation, climate change and surging demand from agriculture have heaped pressure on scarce water supplies, while most people in the Asia-Pacific still lack access to safe water despite booming economic growth.

There could be a fight over resources unless countries agree to share water, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said at the forum yesterday. “No country in this region can handle these challenges alone.”

The People’s Network, meanwhile, said water management without proper understanding and fairness had led to disasters and many problems.

In its so-called People’s Version of the Chiang Mai Declaration, the network recommended respect for local wisdom, as people living in the affected areas knew best about putting water management into the local context.

It also called on governments to proceed in line with good governance and ensure public participation in water management, especially when it came to big projects.