Distinguished UN Under-Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to sincerely welcome all participants of the High-Level Symposium on SDG 6 and Targets: Ensuring that No One is Left Behind in Access to Water and Sanitation.
Today’s Forum, which is being held by the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan and the United Nations, will provide a good opportunity to discuss the ways and methods of overcoming challenges, related to implementation of the global development agenda by focusing on water related goals.
Exchange of opinion on the issues related to implementation of our commitments in sustainable development is the requirement of the day.
In this regard, I would like to extend my gratitude to the United Nations and other relevant institutions for their assistance and support in preparation for this Symposium.
The year of 2015 was memorable in terms of development and approval of the Global Development Agenda.
In this year, the world community has adopted a number of important documents, constituting the main framework of the global development agenda.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Addis-Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development for post 2015 period, the Sustainable Development Agenda to 2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are among those documents.
All of these documents are interrelated with each other in terms of goals and objectives and they identify the direction of humanity development for the next decade.
In this regard, the above-mentioned documents are the logical continuation of the global programs such as the MDGs, the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Kyoto Protocol, which complement the scope of objectives and commitments reflected in them with new joint initiatives.
I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to outline some points about the United Nations’ final document on sustainable development.
In our opinion, the new sustainable development agenda, which is developed on the basis of the United Nations’ Charter, Human Rights and Development Declaration, as well as other UN documents, covers the dreams and desires of all people of the world and every citizen of the globe for the decent and secure future.
One of the peculiarities of the new document is the integration of goals and objectives related to socio-economic development and protection of environment, which are three main pillars of sustainable development.
The agenda also covers the diversity of our world, which is of key importance for development and expansion alongside with the biodiversity.
At this point, I would like to emphasize about the SDG 6, which is dedicated to the issue of everybody’s access to water and sanitation.
This goal alongside with the necessity of ensuring everybody’s access to drinking water and sanitation also covers the issues of water quality, its effective use, implementation of integrated water resources management, protection of water ecosystem, as well as expansion of water cooperation and partnership.
In addition to this, water related part of SDGs identifies separate objectives ensuring the integration of the Goal 6 with other goals of SDGs.
Thus, a conclusion can be made that water resources management is a key point in the new global development agenda.
We consider this achievement as a significant result of the joint efforts made by Governments, UN agencies, international financial institutions, academia and the civil society over the recent years.
It is worth noting that our joint efforts in this regard started as early as within the preparation for Rio+20 Conference.
Particularly at that time, more than fifty UN member states came together within the Water Friends Group in New York to work on promotion of water issues reflected in the new development agenda.
I would like to avail this opportunity to thank all esteemed members of the Water Friends Group and its Steering Committee, whose representatives are present here, for their effective efforts in development and approval of the global water agenda.
The High-level International Conference on implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015 was held in Dushanbe in June 2015.
The Conference final document – Dushanbe Declaration – emphasized the important role of the “Water for Life” Decade in achievement of water related goals and objectives of MDGs.
In our opinion, the Decade has promoted to the improvement of awareness of the civil society, expansion of cooperation at the national, regional and international levels, public-private partnership, involvement of women, youth, representatives of academia and businesses in addressing the challenges related to water resources management.
At the same time, we need to review the Decade’s achievements and success, as well as shortcomings and gaps in the process of implementation of its objectives while implementing the new global development agenda.
For this purpose, last year in April, we proposed to launch a new International Decade under the motto “Water for Sustainable Development” to continue the world community’s efforts in addressing water related issues.
In our opinion, such an initiative would facilitate drawing more thorough attention to implementation of SDG 6 and Targets.
I hope that the participants of the Symposium will provide their concrete recommendations to support this initiative.
Last year the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation completed its activities.
This Board, having summarized its operation over the recent years, provided its recommendations and proposals to strengthen the global water architecture.
Given the importance of continuing efforts in implementation of SDG 6, the Board’s recommendations and proposals meet the requirements of the modern time and promote addressing water related challenges.
Therefore, we need to make further efforts to ensure coordination between the new decade and other international initiatives in this area.
The experience shows that the objectives can be achieved only in case when effective tools and specific plans for the implementation are in place.
In this regard, it is necessary to incorporate the SDG 6 into the national sustainable development strategy of countries as a core component by taking into account the specific features of each country.
For Tajikistan, which has scarce land resources, rational and effective use of water resources is of fundamental importance to enhance socio-economic sustainable development, particularly, to reduce poverty, ensure food and energy security, as well as develop the industry and agriculture.
Therefore, the issue of water resources management is of particular importance in our National Development Strategy, which is currently being improved and finalized by experts.
At the beginning of this year by the initiative of the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank the High Level Panel on Water was established by involvement of the heads of ten UN member states, including Tajikistan.
I hope that the Panel will play a significant role as a platform for discussion and consideration of the key global issues on water.
In our opinion, while discussing the SDG 6, the following issues need to be taken into account:
First, negative impact of climate change on water resources may impede our efforts in achieving SDGs.
According to reliable assessments, including studies of the UN relevant agencies, the temperature is increasing at the global level.
This trend can cause up to two trillion USD of loss to the global economy annually.
Tajikistan, where almost 60% of Central Asia’s water resources get accumulated, is also affected by the negative impact of climate change.
Almost, 30% of Tajikistan’s glaciers have melted during the last ten years, and this trend is continuing.
In this period, only the Fedchenko glacier, the biggest continental glacier in Tajikistan has reduced by 2 cubic kilometers.
At the same time, this year due to the low water season in the main rivers of the region, including in Amudarya and Sirdarya, it is expected that water accumulation will reduce by 30%, and this situation will affect the water supply process in the countries of the region.
This means that the countries of the region need to introduce specific regional programs on regional water resources management based on equality and mutual understanding.
With regard to the impact of climate change, the frequency of water related natural disasters in Tajikistan has increased over the recent years, which annually causes significant financial loss and casualties.
Natural disasters cause unexpected loss to the country’s economy and create barriers against our efforts in ensuring socio-economic sustainable development.
Second, growth of the world population and growing demand in water resources create new challenges for the world community.
Thus, growing demand in water may lead to serious challenges in relations between various sectors of economy, which in its term, can lead to serious negative consequences even within one country.
Therefore, within the world water scarcity, the competition for access to water resources will negatively impact on the process of ensuring sustainable development and welfare of individual countries.
In such a situation, in our opinion, introduction of integrated water resources management would provide new opportunities for improvement and strengthening of existing water cooperation formats at different levels.
Third, it is necessary to take into account the gender aspect in water resources management.
Accordingly, we need to make more efforts to involve women and girls in the process of development and strengthen their role in management and protection of water resources.
Fourth, implementation of all plans and actions depend on ensuring the relevant financial, investment and technical resources in a timely manner.
It is obvious that in the current situation, the world community needs to reform the global cooperation and bring it line with the new reality for the sake of future sustainable development.
With regard to this, enhancement of scientific and technological cooperation is one of the important aspects of our joint efforts for effective implementation of programs and projects on effective use of water resources.
Wide use of the latest technologies in this process is one of the efficient tools for water saving and water loss reduction.
Fifth, transnational water cooperation is one of the key factors to ensure peace, stability and development.
At present there are more than 276 transnational river basins in the world covering 148 countries and more than 70% of the world’s population.
Ensuring effective water cooperation may serve as a driver for the development of countries in these basins.
In contrary, lack of such cooperation may cause serious threats, which will negatively affect the countries’ economic and social situation.
Countries in our region use water resources from two main rivers – Amudarya and Sirdarya and also a number of small transboundary rivers.
The region’s water resources are formulated mainly in two countries and they are mostly used in the other downstream countries.
In this context, decent cooperation in sustainable management and use of water resources is a key factor to ensure sustainable socio-economic development of the countries of the region.
By signing several important agreements, the countries of the region managed to ensure water supply activities acceptable for all stakeholders in the difficult period of transition to the market economy.
At the same time, we still have a great platform for regional cooperation on the use of water and energy resources by taking into account the interests of all countries in the region.
The use of this potential in its full capacity may become an influential factor towards leading the countries of the region to sustainable development.
By committing to just and rational use of water resources, we consider the constant implementation of water cooperation diplomacy as the only efficient tool for achievement of these noble objectives.
Accordingly, Tajikistan stands ready to establish and expand mutually beneficial cooperation with all interested countries at the regional and international levels.
In the current context, it is clear that the process of transition to sustainable development will be challenging and complicated for a number of countries in the world.
Therefore, undertaking joint efforts and supporting the countries, which face challenges in this process, would guarantee successful implementation of the new global development agenda.
In this regard, supporting the group of countries with special needs, including landlocked and small island developing countries, is important for implementation of their national development programs.
In conclusion, I would like to wish to all of us progress in achieving the noble goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda and success to the Symposium.
Thank You for Your attention.
The Founder of Peace and National Unity - the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon met today in the Palace of the Nation with Ambassador Gyan Acharya, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
At the meeting, the parties discussed the current state and prospects of further expansion of bilateral cooperation between Tajikistan and the United Nations in the areas of mutual interest.
The Head of State Emomali Rahmon highlighted an important role of the UN in promoting, understanding and expanding cooperation between the countries to ensure peace and sustainable development, and expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation between Tajikistan and specialized organizations, offices and agencies of the United Nations.
It was noted that about 100 projects in the fields of public administration reform, education, health, social welfare, agriculture, and disaster relief were implemented for the period 2010-2015 within the framework of fruitful cooperation of Tajikistan with numerous UN agencies.
The meeting also discussed the issues related to the ‘High-Level Symposium on SDG 6 and Targets: Ensuring that No One Is Left Behind in Access to Water and Sanitation', and the significance of this international event in the life of today's world population.
It was stressed with regret that the financial and economic crisis in recent years put the efforts of countries in terms of financing the water sector and hinders the development and progress.
In this regard, the establishment of various national, regional and global funds, as well as implementation of other new and creative initiatives on financing for the water industry has been called an important and timely step in this direction.
The High-Level International Symposium on SDG 6 and Targets: Ensuring that No One is Left Behind in Access to Water and Sanitation has started its work in Dushanbe today.
The Founder of Peace and National Unity - the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon attended and delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the Symposium.
The Symposium was attended by over seven hundred (700) high-level representatives from ninety (90) countries of the world, including representatives of 47 international and regional organizations, such as the United Nations and 17 of its agencies and specialized organizations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the World Bank and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and other officials.
The symposium brought together senior officials and analysts from the leading countries, government and international organizations, representatives of the academic, scientific and business communities, and civil society that can take part in decision-making processes in the field of water management.
The symposium, which will last from 9 to 11 August, will discuss topical issues, including capacity-building of national governments and local authorities in the promotion of integrated water resources management, exchange of knowledge and experience in innovative practices to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene, improve water use efficiency, reducing water pollution, protection of watersheds and ecosystems, and promoting international cooperation and partnership, development of regional and multilateral cooperation, and the promotion of specific partnerships to implement LRC 6 and targets.
In his statement, the Head of State Emomali Rahmon emphasized about the SDG 6, which is dedicated to the issue of everybody’s access to water and sanitation.
This goal, alongside with the necessity of ensuring everybody’s access to drinking water and sanitation, also covers the issues of water quality, its efficient use, implementation of integrated water resources management, protection of water ecosystem, as well as expansion of water cooperation and partnership.
According to the President of Tajikistan, water related part of SDGs identifies separate objectives ensuring the integration of the Goal 6 with other goals of SDGs, thus, a conclusion can be made that water resources management is a key point in the new global development agenda.
Regarding the significance of new and important initiatives of Tajikistan related to water issues, including the announcement of a new International Decade under the motto "Water for Sustainable Development” that was put forward last year in April, the Head of State Emomali Rahmon expressed hope that such an initiative, if supported by the international community and the participants of this most important Symposium, would help attract more and comprehensive attention to the implementation of the SDG 6 and its targets.
The President of the country Emomali Rahmon also said that the High-Level Panel on Water was established with involvement of the heads of ten UN member states, including Tajikistan, at the beginning of this year by the initiative of the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank.
In this regard, it was hoped that the Panel would play a significant role as a platform for discussion and consideration of the key global issues on water.
President Emomali Rahmon suggested that during the review of SDG 6 constant attention should be given to the negative impact of climate change on water resources that may impede our efforts in achieving SDGs, to growth of the world population and increasing demand in water resources, consideration of gender aspect in water resources management and transnational water cooperation that is one of the key factors to ensure peace, stability, and development.
In his statement, President Emomali Rahmon once again reminded about the dangers of accelerated melting of glaciers, raising level of rivers, climate change, other problems associated with water, and urged the international community to cooperate and to conduct a constructive interstate dialogue in order to address issues related to water.
At the opening ceremony of the High-Level International Symposium, a message from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was read out by His Excellency Gyan Acharya, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Also, UN Under-Secretary General Guy Ryder delivered a video message. Then, on behalf of the Group-77 - the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United Nations Virachai Plasai, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN Kai Sauer, on behalf of the special advisers of the High-Level Panel on Water - Permanent Representative of the Republic of Mauritius to the UN Jagdish Dkharmachand Kundjali as well as the Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Rashid Alimov, Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization Khalil Ibrohim Akcha, Director for the World Bank Group's Water Global Practice Jennifer Sara and Deputy Chairman of the Global Water Partnership Steering Committee Alice Bowman-Dentener have also addressed the Symposium.
Exclusive interview of Dodojon Ruziev, Head of Jumhuriyat newspaper’s Legal Department with Sirojidin Aslov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan
- Dear Mr. Aslov, it is obvious that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a leading position and plays a key role in implementation of independent Tajikistan’s foreign policy. Nowadays, we are on the eve of celebration of our State Independence. What are the achievements of our foreign policy?
- Tajikistan’s foreign policy is the product of independence period in its full sense, the founder and designer of which is the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon. Establishment of relations with the foreign world and introduction of Tajikistan as an independent country in international arena was one of the most important and currently most challenging aspects of state building at the beginning of our independence.
The Tajik Leader Emomali Rahmon for the first time delivered a statement at the United Nations in September 1993, in which he introduced to the world community Tajikistan’s constructive plans and desires, peace-loving political objectives, its intention to achieve national unity as well as strengthening and expansioning of cooperation with all friendly and peace-loving countries of the world. The Republic of Tajikistan, by acknowledging documents regulating international relations, including the United Nation’s Charter, Helsinki Final Act, Paris Declaration and other documents, established the foundation of its domestic and foreign policies and declared that human being and protection of its rights and freedoms are high values regardless of their nationality, religion, race and sex.
Tajikistan, during 25 years of its independence, by reestablishing mutually rewarding cooperation with countries of the world, international and regional organizations, gradually strengthened its position in the international arena. Currently, Tajikistan has successful relations with countries in various regions, such as the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Central Asia, Asia, Middle East, Europe and America based on Open Doors policy.
It is gratifying that thanks to our successful efforts the Republic of Tajikistan was elected as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) on the 14th of June of this year. This is another achievement of our foreign policy, indicator of reputation and prestige of our country and top leadership before the international organizations.
- I would like to continue our discussion on this fresh achievement of our country. Could you please, provide brief information about the UN ECOSOC and tell me what is the privilege of our membership in this reputable institution?
- The Economic and Social Council is one of the six main agencies of the United Nations, operating since 1945 on the basis of the UN Charter. ECOSOC is a UN real platform for designing and discussing innovative ideas for sustainable development. The Council is mandated to call on special sessions in case of manmade emergencies to discuss them. This Council has more than 70% of human and financial resources of all UN agencies at its disposal to implement its mandate.
Tajikistan considers the ECOSOC as a main international platform for discussion of socio- economic and environmental issues and wishes strengthening of this Agency’s role in coordination of activities aimed at settling urgent issues, as well as ensuring balanced linkage between three dimensions of sustainable development.
- As you outlined, after establishing peace and stability in the country and start of a new period in Tajikistan’s foreign policy, the country’s top leadership designed the Open Doors policy. I would like to ask you to tell me what is the outcome of this policy so far?
- Open Doors policy is the core of Tajikistan’s foreign policy. This policy was declared concurrently with the adoption of Tajikistan’s Foreign Policy Concept, which identified the principles of our country’s international relations in the new period after revival of peace and stability. Indeed, the first decade of Tajikistan’s independence was spent for mitigation of situation and strengthening of governance foundations. Having passed through this period, Tajikistan opened its doors to all countries of the world. The Tajik Leader Emomali Rahmon, as the person determining our foreign policy, by declaring Open Doors policy, started the process of international relations to introduce Tajikistan to the world and encourage foreign investments for reconstruction of the country and this policy has been successful so far. At the beginning, some politicians were of opinion that perhaps, the Open Doors policy would not be that suitable for Tajikistan in its post-war period, and it would be reasonable if the country could remain close for a certain period for the sake of stability and security and prevention of outsiders’ intervention. However, Emomali Rahmon, who knew the internal situation and the world’s status-quo better than any other person did, he remained firm in his position and continued the Open Doors policy.
The experience over several years proved that the Open Doors policy was the best option for Tajikistan in running its foreign policy activities due to its location in one of the difficult regions of the world. This policy declares readiness of Tajikistan for cooperation with all countries of the world, based on equality and mutual interests. Nowadays, we see the effect of these multidimensional relations in various areas. The region’s countries also acknowledge the logics of Open Doors policy and consider it worthwhile to follow. It was particularly this policy that our country managed not only to strengthen its position, but also by identifying its specific way of diplomacy, proactively participate in settling regional and global issues.
- Afghanistan is of particular importance in our foreign policy. Mr. President emphasized for several times that Afghanistan’s stability is the Region’s stability. In this regard, what can be predicted in terms of the settlement of Afghanistan’s case and in what case it would be possible to hope to this country’s sustainable future?
- The ties, we have reestablished between our countries, are really unbreakable, like our joint values. The Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon constantly emphasizes the value of full-fledged security and stability in Afghanistan and also importance of expansion of regional and global efforts for socio-economic revival of this country from high tribunes both nationally and internationally.
In the current sensitive period, particularly, given the activation of terrorist and extremist groups like the Islamic State in Afghanistan, wider and practical cooperation of our countries is of utmost importance. We well understand the key role of this neighboring country in ensuring security of the whole Central Asian region, and support the world community’s initiatives to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. However, we should remember that this country’s future is in the hands of its people.
The process of negotiations in Afghanistan should be followed seriously, and at the same time, its law enforcement and security forces should be supported by the world community both financially and technically. Finally, countries of the world have to accept the reality that noble people of Afghanistan have been victims of the conflict of interests of superpowers over the last four decades and they have the right to the support of the international community in ensuring peace for them. This, first of all, is the task and responsibility of the contemporary world towards this country. Everybody of us should know that further continuation of instability in Afghanistan can cause a serious challenge for the whole region or even the world. We should not allow the extremist groups abuse the instability in this neighboring country and transfer some of its regions into the center of moral and physical training of extremist forces.
- My next question is related to your participation at the Session of the High-level Panel on Water (April 21, 2016, New York), which our President is also member to. What issues did this Session discuss?
- Tajikistan is recognized as the country leading global water issues over the recent decades. It is worthwhile noting that the important and milestone starting point to initiative of our country on international water resources management is the implementation of the initiative of the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon to declare “International Year of Fresh Water 2003” and adoption of the UNGA Resolution on this issue. Tajikistan’s further initiatives in this process, such as declaring International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015 and “International Year of Water Cooperation 2013” shows our country’s continued proactive participation in implementation of the United Nations’ Water Agenda. With a view to continuing the international community’s efforts in settling water and sanitation issues and overcoming shortcomings in the process of implementation of International Decade for Action “Water for Life”, during the 7th World Water Forum held in April 2015 in Taegu, Korea, our President drew the attention of the participants to Tajikistan’s new initiative - International Decade “Water for Sustainable Development”. In addition to this, the Tajik Leader, in his statement at the Opening Ceremony of the High-level International Conference on Implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” held on 9-11 June 2015 in Dushanbe, reiterated this initiative and called on the international community to support it.
The Session, you referred to, was held on the 21st of April of this year in New York with participation of the UN Secretary General, President of the World Bank and special representatives of the countries – members of the High-level Panel-Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Mauritania, Mexico, Hungary, Netherlands, Senegal, Tajikistan and Jordan. The Session discussed the issues of water tariff, quality, price, water scarcity, as well as financing of projects and programs in this area. It also discussed the mechanisms of the future sessions and meetings of the High-level Panel and coordination with other agencies and initiatives on water and sanitation.
- My last question will be about the High-level International Symposium on SDG 6 and Targets, which will commence on 9 August in Dushanbe. What issues will be discussed at this Symposium? What is its main objective?
- This International Forum subtitled “Ensuring that No One is Left Behind in Access to Water and Sanitation” to be held on 9-11 August in the capital of our country – Dushanbe, is being arranged by the joint initiative of the Government of Tajikistan and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). Government officials and decision makers on water resources management issues, experts from regional and international organizations, academia, scholars and entrepreneurs, as well as civil society representatives will participate in it. The Symposium will discuss the issues related to the national and local governments’ capacity in governance of integrated water resources management, access to water, hygiene and sanitation and promotion of international cooperation and partnership on water.
The Forum’s main objective is to find out the ways of implementation of SDG 6 and Targets, as well as establishing framework for the new International Decade “Water for Sustainable Development” proposed by the honorable President of the Republic of Tajikistan. The ways of implementation of these goals will be discussed at eight (8) thematic sessions and will be reflected at the Symposium’s final document. This final document will be introduced to all UN member states during the brief presentation about the results of the Symposium at the UN Headquarters in September of this year.
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