Italy aligns itself with the European Union’s statement. In addition, we fully support the statement made by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in the light of our cooperation related to the upcoming split mandate in the Security Council. As a member of the split term in the Security Council for 2017 and 2018, Italy, together with The Netherlands, will continue its sustained efforts to put climate at the heart of peace and security and encourage other countries to join us and wishes to congratulate the Republic of Senegal for the open-minded choice of topic for this debate, stressing the linkages between climate and security.
We have heard the insightful perspectives on the topic of water, in particular about water security – the need to access a sufficient amount of safe water, for drinking, sanitation and irrigation purposes. The concept of water scarcity, worsened by climate change as a driver or intensifier of conflict, and the use of transboundary aquifers, have also been addressed, and we share this analysis.
Water scarcity can be a threat, multiplier of instability, a driver for migration and confrontation; which is why international cooperation is an essential tool for peace building, preventing conflicts related to resource-scarcity, and minimizing threats through preventive diplomacy, mediation and capacity building. The International Fresh Water Treaties Database lists over 400 water agreements, of which more than a quarter in the last 70 years – the alternative to confrontation.
Italy is party to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (also known as the Water Convention), which has played a key role in conflict prevention in the pan-European region at the time new borders were being redefined following the end of the Soviet Union. It has also proved instrumental in post-conflict situations for example, in the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin, after the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
The Convention and its active institutional framework have promoted cooperation based on equity and sustainability, and thereby have promoted peace and economic integration. The opening of the Convention to all UN Member States as of 1 March 2016 offers the opportunity to create a global multilateral framework for promoting water cooperation, monitoring progress, identifying hot-spots and triggering preventive responses. It can offer a house in the UN system for multilateral diplomacy on peace, security and water.
Italy believes that Education, Research and Cooperation, with the transfer of know-how in sustainable water management, are key to our efforts in conflict prevention. For this purpose, Italy has invested in specialized courses for engineers, agronomists and water managers, promoting an integrated approach within the water-energy-food security nexus, at the Agronomic Institute of Florence (IAO), as well as post-graduate programs at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute in Bari (CIHEAM).
Together with the increasing number and better gender balance of graduate students from Sub-Saharian Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, who are now addressing the competing uses of scarce waters in their respective countries, the Italian Cooperation continues its traditional engagement in local projects for conservation and sustainable use of water, with a focus on rural areas, in the Mediterranean, Near East, Africa and Latin America.
We cannot overlook the importance of water in most cultures and religions, and we cannot stress enough how it is an essential resource for States. History reminds us that advanced water management can contribute to the development and resilience of societies, as the Roman Empire proved in the Mediterranean – an area of water stress and climate variability. Two millennia thereafter, we cannot fail to recognize and address the root causes of conflicts, the challenges that climate change, unprecedented urbanization, population growth and migration pose to the stability and security of the world. This situation – which, again, is particularly evident in Africa – calls for increased international collaboration, and the 2030 Agenda offers us a thorough framework where economic growth, social sustainability, environmental preservation and Peace and Security are intimately connected and mutually beneficial. We should not miss the opportunity of adopting this new conceptual paradigm and Italy will relentlessly work within this membership for prevention and peace building and for the sustainable and peaceful use of water.