Opening Speech at the CEWP High-level Dialogue Meeting
H. E. Mr. CHEN Lei
Minister of Water Resources, P. R. China
12 May, 2015
Distinguished Minister Brosbøl,
Distinguished Commissioner Vella,
Distinguished Ambassador Liu Biwei,
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the month of May, Copenhagen boasts of bright sunshine and pleasant weather. Today, in this smart city with fairy-land charm, we are pleased to attend the high-level dialogue around the theme of water and sustainable development and witness the signature of CEWP work programme for the coming three years. It is of profound and vital influence to CEWP’s future.
Since China and Europe signed the Joint Declaration on the Establishment of CEWP three years ago, more than 20 European countries have been attracted to participate in a diverse programme of activities, including high-level dialogue meetings, joint research, project cooperation, technical exchange and personnel training. The Platform has become a brand name and highlight for China-Europe cooperation in the water sector.
Ladies and gentlemen!
Due to the increased impacts of climate change, continued growth of population, accelerating pace of urbanization, industrialization, and modernization, water issues including water scarcity, water disasters, water pollution and water ecology degradation have intertwined with food and energy issues, constituting a severe challenge to global water security. In the present world, there are over one billion people without access to safe drinking water. It is estimated that by 2050, 3 billion people will live in regions suffering from extreme water scarcity. Among 200-odd major rivers across the globe, nearly one third have experienced the decline of runoff, and water-related disasters have caused almost 90% of the total loss from all the natural disasters. With relatively weak infrastructure, inadequate water governance system, and constrained water financing channels, water security risks become increasingly prominent and water management challenges are multiplying by the days. Water is declared as the core of sustainable development in the outcome document of 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. During the 7th World Water Forum held in April this year, delegates from 168 countries and international organizations have once again advocated for a dedicated goal in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda in order to strengthen solidarity in coping with global water crisis.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to water and sustainable development. Aiming at realizing the "Chinese Dream", Chinese government has proposed a guiding principle for water development in the new age, strengthening water management, ensuring water security and promoting sustainable socio-economic development on the basis of sustainable utilization of water resources.
First, prioritizing water saving to promote a water-saving society in an all-round way. The strictest water management system has been enforced. Meanwhile, the three “red lines” in water use quantity, water use efficiency, and water pollution discharge in water function zones have been established and compliance assessment are conducted at different administrative levels. The monitoring and warning system for water carrying capacities and the incentive system for water conservation have also been developed to promote water saving in industrial, agricultural, urban and domestic uses. The development and utilization of rain water, flood water and unconventional water sources has been enhanced with a view of boosting water use efficiency and benefits.
Second, safeguarding water security with a focus on people-oriented principle. In order to effectively cope with the impacts of global climate change, the risk management and mitigation of flood and drought disasters are reinforced to safeguard people’s lives and minimize disaster damage; the integration of urban and rural water supply is pushed forward and the MDG of halving the population without access to safe drinking water was realized 6 years ahead of schedule; the total area of effectively irrigated farmland has been increased to 63.47 million hectares and grain output has been increasing for 11 consecutive years, making important contributions to global food security.
Third, coordinate short and long term benefits and improve water infrastructure. Accelerating water infrastructure development is taken as an important strategic measure for economic development in China. During a period of 7 years starting from 2014, a total of 270 billion euros is scheduled to be invested in the construction of 172 major water projects and the renovation and upgrading of existing infrastructure, in order to lay solid foundation to the sustainable socio-economic development.
Fourth, advancing water ecological civilization with a focus on green development. In order to achieve the harmony between Human and water，China has launched programs promoting the “sponge city”, “green town” and “beautiful countryside”, strengthened such measures as river and lake management, water resources conservation, water pollution prevention and control and water ecology restoration, and carried out projects of connecting rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Low-carbon economy is being vigorously developed and more efforts are being made on energy saving and emission reduction. The total installed hydropower capacity has reached 230 million kilowatts, accounting for one fifth of the country's total power generation capacity.
Fifth, deepening reform and innovation and further improving water governance system. A series of measures have been taken, including strengthening the government’s responsibility in water governance, increasing fiscal and financial support, encouraging the participation of the public and stakeholders, optimizing water pricing mechanism, fostering water right system and water market and exploring different modes of public-private partnership, in order to attract more social capitals into the water sector. At the same time, efforts have been made to push forward innovation in water science and technology, as well as to speed up the water legalization process, with a view of providing science-technology support and an enabling legal environment for sustainable utilization of water resources.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mankind has only one globe and it is home to all countries. We need to join hands and work side-by-side to seek solutions for global water problems. Taking this opportunity, I would like to make the following proposals for deepening China-EU water cooperation:
First, we need to build global consensus and advocate for a dedicated water development goal. While giving full play to our individual influence in the international community, we should enhance coordination and cooperation in international negotiations, and support a dedicated goal for water in the post-2015 development agenda. It will become a new driving force for sustainable utilization of global water resources.
Second, innovative water management ideas shall be applied to upgrade the global water security level. In the light of the strictest water resources management system practiced in China and the EU Blueprint for Water, and centering on the “Water-Energy-Food Nexus”, multi-layered and wide-ranging policy exchanges and dialogues should be conducted between our two sides so that we can draw upon each other’s practices, consolidate the top-level design and reform innovation in terms of water governance, thereby accumulating better experiences for safeguarding global water security.
Third, cooperation areas shall be further expanded to promote the progress of global water science and technology. We should continue to scale up science and technology cooperation, information exchange and personnel training in the fields of water conservation, wastewater treatment and recycling, water ecology restoration, water environment protection, flood control, drought relief and disaster mitigation, and climate change impacts on water resources, giving full play to the leading and supporting role of science-technology progress in improving water management.
Fourth, we should make the best use of this platform and create a bright future for water cooperation between China and the EU. The coming three years will be a crucial stage for the development of the China-EU Water Platform. Both sides should fully stimulate the enthusiasm of government departments, river-basin management agencies, scientific research institutes and relevant enterprises, reinforce the China-EU Water Platform Secretariat’s role of guiding, mobilizing and information exchanging, and energetically explore more pragmatic and efficient modes for cooperation and communication, so that wider space can be opened up for the China-EU cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a Chinese saying goes, “Though bosom friends miles apart, no distance if sharing a heart”. The “Belt and Road Initiative” strategy proposed by China has provided a new opportunity for us to further consolidate cooperation. I am confident that with the joint efforts of both sides, the China-EU Water Platform will bloom splendidly and bear more fruitful results, making new contribution to China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.
I would conclude my speech by wishing this dialogue meeting a great success!