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China Celebrates World Water Day Leaders Speak April 1996

THE EARTH TIMES

APRIL 15 – 30, 1996

World Day for Water

International leaders call for renewed efforts to meet growing needs

Ashali Varma takes excerpts of statements made by international agencies and ministers on World Day for Water

BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI, SECRETARY GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS:

Although we have been warned of an impending water crisis, one worse than the oil crisis of the 1970s, we still seem to lack the political will and commitment to tackle and solve the water problems which many of our brothers and sisters are facing today-and which our children will have to face tomorrow, unless we act now.

As we move towards the Habitat II Conference, the Conference of Commitments, we must extend the same commitments to the solution of water problems the world over. Only through total commitment by all providers and users of water governments, local authorities, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and communities—do we stand any chance of averting the impending water crisis. We must all exercise our rights and responsibilities to provide water for all, rich and poor alike, for all its competing uses, equitably, reliably and afford ably.

ZOU JIAHUA, VICE PREMIER, CHINA:

China will make its own contribution for this purpose. China, as a country with short supplies of water, has spared no effort in protecting water resources and raising water-use efficiency.

WALLY N’DOW, SECRETARY GENERAL OF HABITAT II:

The theme for World Day for Water in 1996, “Water for Thirsty Cities,” emphasizes the  growing water crisis faced by cities across the world, one which threatens the sustainability of their social and economic development.

World Day for Water this year comes at a time of great opportunity. The day is being observed today in countries around the world, less than three months before the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) takes place in Istanbul. One of the major challenges of this Conference, now popularly known as the “City Summit,” will be to arrive to a consensus on how the soaring water demands of the cities and towns of the world could be met without compromising the needs of future generations. World Day for Water will be the occasion to send a strong message to Istanbul.

CAROL BELLAMY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF:

In Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, state parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highly attainable standards of health, including clean  drinking water and hygiene and environmental sanitation.

Universal access to water supply and sanitation represents one of the major goals of child survival, development and protection as per the declaration at the World Summit for Children. Some encouraging gains have been made during the first half of the decade

in the provision of safe water  supply but the remaining task is daunting.

ARTHUR N. HOLCOMBE, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE, UNDP, CHINA:

Critical water shortages are not only a developing country problem. In the Southwest of the United Sates, especially in California, prolonged drought has increasingly become the norm. The increasingly arid conditions have destroyed vast tracts of forests in the Sierra Nevada range, and killed extensive fish and bird life in rivers and formerly wetland areas.

ISMAIL SERAGELDIN, VICE PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK:

Over the next decade developing countries will invest an estimated $600 billion in  water related infrastructure. The World Bank is committed to working with developing countries in helping ensure that this money is invested in ways that reduce poverty, contribute to  economic growth, and are environmentally sustainable.

TAN QINGLIAN, VICE MINISTER, CHINA:

China gives equal importance to water savings and new water supply. We have to save water by reducing pollution of water resources. We have to step up our efforts to improve   efficiency.