Budapest Water Summit 2016 begins with warning, call for action

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The Budapest Water Summit 2016, with the motto “Water connects”, got underway on Monday, attended by nearly 1,800 participants.

Hungarian President Janos Ader, sponsor of the gathering, warned that water was the world’s most endangered resource and had to become the top issue of political thinking and actions.

Satisfactory water supplies are vital to agricultural and industrial output alike, he said, adding that between now and 2030 water consumption will grow by 30 percent.

He called for innovating thinking and as many experimental programs as possible together with the funding to keep these programs running.

Ader noted that farming required 70 percent of all water used, although only 15 percent of arable land was irrigated. However, he went on that 15 percent produces 40 percent of all farming yields.

Climate change and water were interlinked, he said, underlining that if there is a shortage of water, cities could become depopulated.

Peter Thomson, president of the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations, in addressing the summit, pointed to the link between sufficient water, and peace and security. He quoted OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) data predicting that the global demand for water will increase by 55 percent by 2050. Water is key to sustainable development, he said.

The UN has declared access to water to be a human right, Thomson said, meaning that people everywhere needed to be supplied with adequate drinking water and that waste-water everywhere needed to be treated.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message calling for management of water as a resource to achieve sustainable development. He appealed for the dissemination of best practices as widely as possible.

Managing Director and World Bank Group Chief Financial Officer, Joaquim Levy, warned that water shortages triggered conflict and migration, and had a huge economic and social cost.

The three-day Water Summit is made up of six thematic plenary panels focused on implementation of the sustainable development goals related to water.

In addition, there will be a science and technology forum, a youth forum, a civil forum and a women’s forum.

A statement is expected to be adopted on the final day of the event.

A Sustainable Water Solutions Expo is being held on the sidelines of the summit. It focuses on sustainable, innovative, and pro-environment drinking water production and water treatment.

This is the second Budapest Water Summit which is organized by the Hungarian government in cooperation with the World Water Council. The first Water Summit was held in 2013.

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