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Speech on “The Asia-Pacific Day” of the 5th World Water Forum
  2009-07-14 09:15  

Speech on “The Asia-Pacific Day” of the 5th World Water Forum

By H. E. CHEN Lei
Minister of Water Resources, P. R. China

Ladies, Gentlemen and Dear friends,

Today, I am delighted to attend the Asian-Pacific Day where we can exchange experiences, share outcomes and conduct discussions with colleagues from other Asian-Pacific countries in conquering water problems and promoting sustainable development in the Asian-Pacific region.

Water is the lifeline for the livelihood and development of human being and a critical material foundation for sustainable social and economic development. The Asian-Pacific region is an area full of energy and has huge development potentials. Nevertheless, the water sector in the Asian-Pacific region is confronted with a great deal of challenges. Population of the Asian-Pacific region occupies 61% of the world total, whereas its water resources only account for 1/3 of the world total.

As a result of rapid population increase, problems are emerged such as reduction of water resources per capita, severe water shortage, limited access to water and sanitation and low capacity in water management and difficulty in water project financing. Approximately 560 million rural population are unable to access to safe drinking water. From 1980 to 2006, water disasters in Asia Pacific resulted in 600,000 deaths, accounting for 80% of the world total. Thus, reducing losses of flood and drought disasters and sustainable utilization of water resources are not only issues of our common concern but also pressing tasks for all Asian-Pacific countries.

China is a developing country with largest population in the world and relatively scarce water resources. With large population but limited water resources plus uneven temporal and spatial distribution of water resources and the consequent mismatch between such distribution and the layout of productivity, it has become the predominant problem that has great impact on sustainable development of economy and society of China.

The Chinese Government attaches great attention to find solutions for water issues and regards resource conservation and environmental protection as the basic national policies. In line with the philosophies of human orientation and harmony between man and nature, the Chinese water sector endeavors to ensure sustainable economic and social development with sustainable utilization of water resources, i.e., rational development, efficient utilization, integrated management, optimized allocation, all-round conservation, effective protection and scientific management of water resources. Over the past 30 years, China has sustained a nearly 10% annual economic growth rate at an annual growth rate of 1% in water use. For 30 consecutive years, China has increased grain output by nearly 50% with zero increase of irrigation water use, and fed 20.1% of the world population. These are marvelous achievements and significant contributions that China has made for world development and prosperity.

Currently and hereafter, China is devoted to constructing a well-off society in an all-round way and accelerating to drive the process of modernization. The Chinese Government attaches high importance to water issues and puts the water sector in the more outstanding place. We shall complete the task of reinforcing large, medium and key small defective reservoirs by the end of 2010, and thereby eliminate their threats to people’s lives and properties. China will realize the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the population without access to safe drinking water 6 years ahead of time, and completely solve rural difficulty in accessing safe drinking water by the end of 2013. Continuous and supplementary construction and water-saving renovation of large irrigation areas will be completed by 2020 when effectively irrigated farmland in China will extend by 5.54 million hectare and the total effectively irrigated farmland will reach to 63.33 million hectare, and agricultural irrigation water use coefficient will go up from 0.46 to 0.55. By 2020 when the goal of building a well-off society in an all round way becomes a reality in China, the Chinese people will be safely protected from floods, have access to safe and clean drinking water in both urban and rural areas, enjoy remarkably improved water environment, water ecology and enhanced informationzation and modernization of the water sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For many years, Asian-Pacific countries have been committed to addressing water problems, and actively exploring and developing economic development patterns tailored to their respective national situations. The Chinese Government sincerely hopes to enhance dialogues, exchanges and cooperation in water field among Asian-Pacific countries, with joint efforts for promoting development of the water sector in this region, as well as harmony of the world and sustainable development of economy and society in the Asian-Pacific region.

Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the host of the Asian-Pacific Day, and wish this event a great success!