|Viet Nam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh speaks at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) yesterday. — Photo Van Tri
BEN TRE (VNS) — Viet Nam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh told participants at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) yesterday that "it is time for us to take action" on the sustainable management of water resources and climate-change agreements.
Minh cited the UN's 2015 World Water Development Report that global water challenges had become more acute and complicated than ever before.
"It is high time for ASEM members to join hands with the international community to promote the adoption of the (UN's) Post-2015 Development Agenda and to attain a new global agreement on climate change," he said.
"If oil was one of the reasons for wars in the 20th century, many think that the wars of the 21st century would be fought over water," he said. "Viet Nam attaches importance and commits to promoting international co-operation in water resources management within sustainable development."
He said that water security was essential for Viet Nam's development, citing the close link between water security and global food security, as the country is one of the world's largest suppliers of food products.
"With that in mind, Viet Nam has been making every effort to enhance co-operation with ASEAN members and parties to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in sustainable water resources management of the Mekong River and in the shaping of the Post-2015 Development Agenda," Minh said.
Like other areas in the Mekong Delta, Ben Tre Province, where the meeting was organised, is affected by climate change and severe saline intrusion.
"Over the past years, we have also witnessed numerous devastating consequences of mega-disasters with ‘never-before-seen' scope and intensity caused by climate change," he said.
"The most notable were the historic floods in Thailand in 2011 and 2012, and in Europe in 2013, as well as the severe drought in China last year, and the deadliest heat wave on record in India this year," he added.
|The Thom River in Ben Tre Province. Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh wants world co-operation on sustainable management of water. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hien
At least 750 million people — more than one-tenth of the world's population — remain without access to an improved water supply.
The danger of groundwater depletion, which accounts for 95 per cent of water resources supply, even in major cities such as Bangkok, Vientiane and HCM City, has increased dramatically.
Along with rising sea levels and high tides, roughly 80 per cent of untreated waste water discharged into oceans, rivers and lakes are jeopardising the environment and causing adverse impact on agricultural production and the livelihoods of people, Minh said.
Minh encouraged participants to exchange ideas on how to ensure the role of water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including the sharing of trans-boundary water resources.
The annual ASEM Dialogue on Sustainable Development focused on ways to improve water management in urban areas and ensure water resources, food and energy security.
The annual event was begun four years ago by the EU and the seven members of the Danube-Mekong Cooperation Initiative (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam).
Attending the event were 180 delegates from 53 ASEM members and regional and international organisations, including the Mekong River Commission, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, and the World Bank. — VNS