Opening Remarks by Mr. Akihiro Ohta,
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan
At the Special Event
“Taking Stock of the International Year of Water Cooperation
and Advancing the Global Water Agenda after Post-2015”
Tuesday, 11 March 2014,
Your Excellency, Mr. Sirodjidin Aslov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan,
Your Excellency, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO,
Mr. Nickhil Seth, Director of Sustainable Development of UN-DESA
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Japan, it is my pleasure to deliver an opening statement for this special event “Taking Stock of the International Year of Water Cooperation and Advancing the Global Water Agenda after Post-2015”.
2013, the International Year of Water Cooperation, saw significant achievements in enhancing awareness of the importance of water cooperation through such activities as the Launch Ceremony of the International Year, the High-level International Conference on Water Cooperation, and numerous international water cooperation campaigns organized around the world.
In particular, the High-level International Conference on Water Cooperation held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, delivered major outcomes, including a proposal towards the global goal on water and sustainable development, and the Dushanbe Framework for Action on Water Cooperation, a compilation of specific proposals for action towards sustainable water management.
The international community needs to further discuss and cooperate on the issue of water in order to further raise awareness of the importance of - and also to share and find solutions to the difficulties of - tackling the wide range of water-related challenges that the world faces today. Such efforts should not end with the International Year of Water Cooperation.
The post-2015 development agenda is now being discussed intensively among the international community. The follow-up to the International Year of Water Cooperation is necessary for promoting the importance of addressing water issues within the post-2015 discussion. As has been proposed by UN-Water, the world needs to not only raise water issues as a global goal, but also position water-related disaster reduction within the notion of water issues, and it is also important to promote disaster risk reduction as a part of global poverty eradication.
With such recognitions, Japan has been actively pursuing initiatives on the topic of water and disasters.
In March of last year, the UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters was held as the first event in the history of UN to be dedicated to a discussion on the subject of water and disasters. The President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and many other participants stressed the importance of addressing these issues comprehensively. Furthermore, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan, distinguished for his knowledge of water issues, delivered a keynote speech titled “Revisiting the history of interaction between human beings and water-related disasters –Exploration to find a hint for a more disaster-resilient society –”
I would also like to note that the Dushanbe Declaration adopted last August called for “dialogue on water and disasters at various levels,” recognizing the fact that the topic of water and disasters is among one of the most critical water issues.
In order to promote awareness on the importance of efforts related to water and disasters in the UN, it is necessary to create a platform for regular dialogue, where high-level representatives from the relevant domestic authorities responsible for water-related disaster risk reduction, the UN agencies, and international aid agencies can get together. In this respect, Japan would like to contribute to the creation of such a platform, and hopes to link our efforts with the follow-up activities of the International Year of Water Cooperation.
Before concluding my remarks, I would like to inform you that Japan will be hosting two important UN events for promoting efforts related to water.
The first is the “World Water Day 2014: Water and Energy” to be organized at United Nations University in Tokyo on March 21. We invite you all to come to Tokyo and join us in discussing both the challenges and our efforts in cooperation toward “water and energy.”
The other is the “Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction,” where the successor framework to the “Hyogo Framework for Action,” - the international guidelines for disaster risk reduction - will be adopted. The conference will be held in March 2015 in Sendai City, Miyagi, one of the cities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. We look forward to your visit to Sendai and participating in the meeting.
Lastly, I sincerely hope that the meeting today will lead to the strengthening of follow-up activities for the International Year of Water Cooperation.
Thank you very much.