Water is a collective good. It should therefore also be our greatest source of cooperation. It’s in this spirit that the world is meeting at the United Nations in New York.
In the 20th century, 149 water-related treaties were signed – and in fact, we have seen far more cooperation over water than conflict.
But with climate pressures intensifying, access to fresh water becomes an increasing challenge. On the path we are on, half of the world’s population will suffer from acute water stress by 2030.
Europe is facing the worst drought in 500 years. Freshwater resources are dwindling. And millions are globally facing the question of whether they will have to leave their homelands. The very foundation of our food and energy security is challenged.
That is why the European Union fully supports the UN Agenda on Water Action.
The good news is, collectively, we have what it takes to make a difference. We have the scientific, technological, and policy know-how. And most importantly, we have the ability to learn from each other.
In the European Union, we are transforming our economy with the European Green Deal. From agriculture to industry and energy, the quality and quantity of water is central to our green transition.
Still this summer, for example, we are implementing a Water Re-use Regulation for agricultural irrigation. And we are working on an Eco-Design Regulation that will encourage water-saving standards for products.
Around the world, the EU is championing new, sustainable approaches to water. With Global Gateway, our global investment package, we have committed over 1 billion euros to water management.
We are working with countries in Africa and Central Asia to support livelihoods, energy, food, and peace. We are bringing our innovation and regulatory competence to the table. But the EU is also ready to learn from others.
Because we’re in this together.
And best practices should be shared as widely as possible. And that’s what this Conference is all about. There is so much knowledge and so much passion, in research and the private sector, amongst young people and indigenous communities.
Let’s exchange! Because if we do not solve water, we will fail on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is in all our hands that water remains a global common good. A solution to conflict, not its source. A cure to insecurity, not its cause.
Thank you to the Netherlands and Tajikistan for co-chairing this urgent gathering. And thank you to the United Nations for leading a forward-looking, global solution.