Opening Statement by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Mid-Term Review of the Water Action Decade on 25 June 2021
"Partnerships to Build Water Resilience"
His Excellency, Mr Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan
1 Thank you for participating in the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Mid-Term Review of the Water Action Decade, co-hosted by Singapore and Tajikistan on the sidelines of the Singapore International Water Week 2021.
2 Water is the source of life on earth. Yet, 165 million people in the Asia-Pacific region do not have drinking water and 369 million people lack access to basic sanitation services.These gaps are exacerbated by climate change and extreme weather events. According to a UN 2019 report, drought or flooding has contributed to 75% of the estimated loss of $675 billion per year due to natural disasters in the region. Access to clean water is also critical to our defence against COVID-19 in ensuring public and personal hygiene.
3 Amidst these challenges, international cooperation has never been more critical in achieving SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation for all. I commend Tajikistan's leadership in spearheading the establishment of the International Decade for Action on "Water for Sustainable Development" from 2018 to 2028. The International Decade has focused global attention, and mobilised political will to deliver concrete solutions to achieve SDG 6. It is timely for us to take stock of the Asia-Pacific region's efforts and discuss how we can accelerate action.
4 Our discussion today will contribute to 2 milestone events - the Dushanbe High Level Water Decade Conference, to be hosted by Tajikistan in June 2022, and the Mid-Term Comprehensive Review of the Water Action Decade, to be held at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in 2023. We hope to bring together views from the public, people and private sectors which play equally vital roles in delivering water solutions for sustainable development.
5 Let me share with you how partnerships have shaped Singapore's water journey.
A Shared Long-Term Vision for Water
6 First, a long-term vision for water shared by all stakeholders is crucial in reaching our goal of securing our supply. For a small city-state like Singapore to survive, we have to ensure a clean and reliable water supply. With limited natural water sources and catchment areas, and high population density, we need to manage our water resources prudently. Everyone must play their part and commit to the notion that "every drop counts". PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency, makes it its mission to diversify its water sources. Industry participates in co-development and implementation of new water technologies with PUB. Every child in school learns to conserve and value water. Partnerships at all levels have helped us safeguard our water supply.
Innovative Solutions for Water Resilience
7 Second, partnerships galvanise innovative solutions for water resilience. Partnerships with industry, academia, water experts and the international community have been integral to advancing new technologies and delivering solutions at scale. One example is our NEWater, high-grade reclaimed water, and a game-changer in Singapore's Water Story. The public sector partnered with industry to develop pilot studies; collaborated with overseas research institutions on membrane technology; and engaged international experts from a wide-range of sciences - engineering, biomedical sciences, chemistry - to ensure that NEWater meets high standards. The journey to develop NEWater took more than 30 years.
8 Partnerships also helped us in demand management and sustainable production. In water conservation, we worked with industry and the community on innovations such as smart metering for households and businesses for timely information on water consumption and leak detection. Another example is in reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint of water treatment operations. We have also partnered local companies to construct one of the world's largest floating solar panel systems with a capacity of 60 megawatt-peak. The power generated will be sufficient to power our local water treatment plants which will make our waterworks one of the few in the world to go 100% green.
Working Together for a Sustainable Future
9 Third, the need to address current and future challenges, particularly climate change. These challenges are exacerbated by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, which pose a serious threat to global progress and achievement of the SDGs. We need to keep an eye on long-term problems even as we manage immediate challenges.
10 We recently launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 as a whole-of-nation masterplan to advance our sustainable development agenda and climate action. For climate resilience, the Green Plan charts our plans to prepare for sea level rise, which is projected to rise by up to 1 metre by 2100. To take a science-based approach, the Centre for Climate Research Singapore and PUB, are working with partners to uncover solutions to protect our coastlines. On water resilience, the Green Plan aims for more sustainable water management, including targets to reduce water consumption per household to 130 litres per capita per day.
11 As we reach for a more sustainable future, we will partner other countries and international organisations, including UN-Water, UN-DESA and UNICEF, to learn from each other and exchange best practices. As one of Singapore's flagship sustainability events, SIWW brings together water leaders and practitioners from around the world to contribute to progress in SDG 6 and the Water Action Decade. We look forward to the Conference on the Mid-Term Comprehensive Review of the Water Action Decade to be co-convened by Tajikistan in 2023.
12 Just as partnerships have enhanced Singapore's water journey, so too can they enrich the global pursuit of SDG 6. To harness the power of global partnerships for water, we must work towards a shared vision, find innovative solutions, and prepare ourselves for future challenges.
13 I wish you all fruitful discussion. Thank you.