Speech of UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Katarzyna Wawiernia at the first International Forum on water technologies and resources "GLOBAL WATER"

February 22, 2024
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

Dear partners, participants, ladies and gentlemen,


I am honoured to address this crucial session on water management representing the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan.

In our time, 80 percent of the terrible impacts of climate change bear the water mark. From catastrophic floods to relentless droughts, from the ongoing melting of glaciers to the creeping rise in sea levels, these phenomena threaten the very fabric of our global ecosystems. Water, the lifeblood of our planet, is the inextricable link between any discourse on humanity's balance with nature and the relentless onslaught of climate change.

But the poor management of our water resources is not only slowing our progress, it is also jeopardising life on Earth itself. Consider this: half of our world's population — 4 billion people — suffers from severe water shortages for at least one month a year, while half a billion people constantly struggle with thirst. Shockingly, 4.2 billion people have no sanitation, 2.2 billion have no clean drinking water and 700 million people will be displaced by 2030 due to water scarcity. In addition, 1.2 billion people live in regions where water scarcity threatens agricultural supplies.

These staggering deficits are due to the collective mismanagement of our precious water resources, which is upsetting the delicate balance of the global water cycle. With the increase in extreme weather events, water is becoming scarcer, more unpredictable and more polluted.

In Central Asia, the growing needs of agriculture and industry are casting an ominous shadow over water scarcity, with 90 percent of available surface water already earmarked for agricultural use. This looming crisis jeopardises regional stability and sustainable development and underscores the need for robust transboundary water cooperation to promote peaceful cooperation between nations and ensure equitable and sustainable management of shared water resources for the common good.

To combat the scourge of water scarcity, we must address the fundamental challenges posed by the wasteful use of water, rampant pollution and woefully inadequate infrastructure, which severely hamper our efforts towards environmental protection and sustainability.

Indeed, the path to progress lies in international co-operation and knowledge sharing. By working with our global allies, nations can leverage expertise, pool resources and adopt best practises to strengthen their water governance and achieve lasting sustainability.

Today, Kazakhstan, like other countries around the world, is at a crossroads in its pursuit of water security and sustainability. By prioritising sound government policies, adopting measures to protect our water resources, addressing fundamental challenges and cultivating international camaraderie, we can chart a course towards a future where water resilience is the norm, not the exception. As a committed partner, UNDP will continue to support Kazakhstan's efforts in this important endeavor.

Thank you.