Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join the Stockholm World Water Week 2013 and the High-level Dialogue. 2013 marks UN’s International Year for Water Cooperation. The world water week this year takes “Water Cooperation - Building Partnerships” as its theme, and will encourage all the participants to strengthen cooperation, exchange experiences, share technology, and work together to promote sustainable water resources utilization. On behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources of China, I would like to extend our sincere congratulations to the successful opening of the Water Week, and share with you China’s international water cooperation experiences.
China has long been nagged by water problems. Along with the fast process of industrialization and urbanization, China is facing bigger and bigger water pressures. Water problems became more and more serious, such as floods, draughts, water and soil erosion and water pollution. These problems have become the bottleneck for the sustainable development of our society and economy. In the past more than 3 decades since the implementation of Reform and Opening-up Policy, China has been devoting herself to enhance water reform and development on the basis of self-reliance. At the meantime, we have positively participated in various forms of international water cooperation, and launched fruitful technical exchanges and knowledge sharing with our partners.
First, for bilateral cooperation, China has built water cooperative partnership with more 60 countries, signed 60 treaties for bilateral water cooperation, and established more than 20 regular bilateral cooperation mechanisms. A government-to-government cooperation frame with various layers, broad domains, and all-round aspects has been shaped.
Second, for multilateral cooperation, various actions have also been taken. H.E. Minister Chen Lei is member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and actively provide consultancy and suggestions. Chinese Government delegations have participated in many influential international water events, such as World Water Forum and Stockholm World Water Week, and gave our propositions for water cooperation. We have launched China-EU Water Platform with EU, and strengthened cooperation with UNESCO, UNIDO, and many other international organizations. Thus multilateral water cooperation and communication has been promoted.
Thirdly, for trans-boundary rivers, Chinese Government speaks highly of the trans-boundary river cooperation with neighbouring countries, and has set up cooperation of various forms with 16 neighbouring countries. We have endeavored to cooperate with neighbouring states in many different fields, such as hydrological flood forecasting, flood control and disaster mitigation, as well as handling emergent incidents. We have contribute and played an important role in flood defense, draught relief, and securing people’ lives and assets in those countries, which has been highly regarded by our neighbouring countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is our common goal to successfully deal with all kinds of water crisis and to fulfill sustainable utilization of water resources. Now I would like to propose three suggestions for future water cooperation. First, developing countries should give priority to water related infrastructure construction during the process of economy development, poverty reduction, as well as resources and environment protection. Second, developed countries should help developing countries to deal with water problem with actions in terms of technical, financial and management support. Thirdly, when formulating international rules, full consideration should be given to the different situations and actual conditions of different countries, and full respects should be given to each country’s right to access to water and right to development. China is willing to continue to enhance cooperation with other countries and the international organizations, to share our experiences and technologies, and to work together with world to face challenges and contribute more to the sustainable development of human society.
Finally, sincerely wish a great success for the Water Week. Thank you!
You have proposed three suggestions for future international water cooperation. What actions China has taken in those aspects?
China is the largest developing country in the world. We are facing the practical national and water conditions, such as large population and limited water resources, unevenly distributed water in terms of time and space, and mismatching of water distribution and productivity layout. Chinese government attaches great importance to dealing water problems, and set our main water development goals as securing flood safety, water supply, food production and environment. In the past more than 3 decades since the implementation of Reform and Opening-up Policy, we have succeeded in coping with many severe water related disasters, construction the world largest structure system for river harnessing and water resources development, helping 300million people get access to safe drinking water, and fulfill the MDGs 6 years before the set date by UN.
We also promote sustainable use of water resources, and continuously improve the water using efficiency as well as effectiveness. Annual water consumption is as low as 1%, which successfully supports the fast economy growth by as high as 10% each year. In agriculture sector, water consumption succeeded in zero growth, but food production has been increased by 78%. In fact, grain output continuous growing for 9 consecutive years since 2004. By using only 6% percent of the world fresh water and 9% cultivated land, China successfully meet the demand of food safety, drinking water security, as well as economy development for 21% of the world’s total population.
In line with the water sector’s development, we have established friendly cooperation and partnership with many countries and international organizations. Taking the Netherlands for example. In the past 20 years, China and the Netherlands has launched various cooperative projects in the fields of river basin management, sustainable utilization of water resources, flood management, dyke safety, river ecology protection, water pollution prevention, etc., and all these projects came out as fruitful success, bringing benefit for water sector of both countries. Through the bilateral cooperation, our Dutch partners also helped with training of a large number of Chinese water technicians and managers by exchanges of personnel, technical training courses and degrees’ education. These have got very positive reflection from the Chinese water sector.
In the past decade, we have been working closely with Switzerland, and jointly implemented series projects related to flood forecasting and warning, flood control and disasters’ mitigation, and have introduced to China the advanced technology and management experiences on water management and disasters’ mitigation. Both sides are now planning to extend the cooperation to climate change impacts on water.
Besides, we also have cooperated with abundant outputs with World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Global Environment Foundation, UN’s organizations, as well as governmental water agencies of other countries, which played an effective role to accelerate the water reform and development in China.
On the other hand, we also positively assist other developing countries to solve their water problems. In 2011, sever flood hit Thailand. At the requirement of the Thai Government, Chinese government sent an expert team headed by a vice minister of our ministry to Thailand, and provided technical consultancy on flood control and disaster mitigation. On the first half of 2012, we sent another two expert groups to Thailand, and worked together with Thai colleagues on their flood season security, flood control commending system construction, as well as forecasting and early warning of floods.
Other projects like “Lightening Africa” in African countries, “Small Cistern for Rainwater Harvest” and series training programs on small hydropower and sediment management in Western Asia and Northern Africa, etc. have also gained favorable recognition from the international society and the developing world. Up till now, China has in total provided assistance on water management and water infrastructure construction to 27 developing countries, and has launched assistant projects in many aspects, such as water resources planning, comprehensive river basin planning, water and hydropower project design and construction, training and capacity building.
In the future, we will continue our efforts on domestic water sector development. The Chinese government has decided to provide in total 4 trillion RMB (663.6 billion USD) investments on water sector from 2011 to 2020. At the meantime, we will also continue positive communication and cooperation with international counterparts. Chin and EU launched China-EU Water Platform in 2012, 8 EU member countries including Sweden and Denmark have proposed to lead cooperation on certain themes with China. We sincerely expect that such a revolutionary new way of cooperation will consolidate and extend the various existing cooperation, and achieve great success. We are also willing to share with the other developing countries our technology and knowledge on water resources management, water-saving irrigation, flood control and disaster mitigation, water and soil erosion, rainwater harvesting, etc., and provide technical support on water and hydropower construction, so that we could fulfill the sustainable development together.