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General Assembly - High-level Event on the Interlinkages between Water and Climate Action



General Assembly - High-level Event on the Interlinkages between Water and Climate Action

Statement delivered by the Minister for Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Sergio Costa, at the High-level Event on the Interlinkages between Water and Climate Action ---

Madam President,

Honorable Ministers and

Youth Representatives,

I thank the Permanent Mission of Tajikistan for having organized this event, which gives us the opportunity to highlight the synergies between Agenda 2030 - in particular, SDG 6 on the water cycle and the Paris Agreement.
When we talk about water, we talk about a primeval, essential and vital element for human beings, for all human beings. It is a central good in people’s lives. It is a common resource and key emblem in all cultures, in all philosophies, and in all religions.

The historic resolution adopted here 9 years ago in 2010 reads, “The right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights”.

Water is a priority issue for Italy. We indeed believe that access to water is a right of all citizens and that it is the responsibility of States to protect this human right. Italians have expressed their view of the public utility of water with a referendum held 8 years ago and currently our Parliament is now debating a law, in keeping with European norms, that unhinges the pooling and privatization mechanisms that penalize territories, that increases investments in water networks, by also promoting a total re-investment of earnings in this sector that incentivizes a “plastic-free” everyday life.

Our work stems from this strong motivation we have in Italy to bring our cooperation and assistance to the entire world so that all the women and men of the planet have access to drinking water.

Much progress has been made, but for the majority of the world’s population this goal remains elusive. 2.1 billion people do not have access to drinking water and 4.5 billion people do not have safe sanitation.
Africa – the continent most affected by climate change – is where half of the global population drinks water from unsafe sources, and where the marginalized or discriminated for gender, age, economic status or ethnic, religious or linguistic identity have limited access to water and adequate sanitation. We must thus work for access for all, without discrimination and giving priority to the most needy.

The Ministry of Environment that I lead aims to be an important actor in this challenge of water for all and has launched cooperative agreements with some forty Countries, many of which in Africa, where in many we have envisaged actions for water.

We need an integrated vision of water, the biosphere and environmental trends to conceive sustainable agricultural and economic systems that can allow us to slow down the impact of climate change and at the same time protect us from extreme effects and to adapt to what is happening. Indeed the Paris Agreement on Climate, alongside the issue of mitigation, has placed improving adaptation capacities and strengthening resilience to climate change, as global objectives.

Against this backdrop, more than half of our ongoing or recently completed projects in Africa have at least one component tied to the sustainable use of water resources.

Access to water in rural areas, for consumption and irrigation, is the main objective of the projects underway in Djibouti in Ethiopia, in the DRC and in Sudan. Led by our counterparts, in perfect partnership, we are equipping a number of villages in these countries with wells with solar-powered pumping systems, aboveground water tanks, systems for the collection of water and for irrigation.

As in Botswana, Eswatini and Morocco, we are realizing green building projects that promote savings in water consumption and adopt water-heating systems powered by solar energy.

In Ruanda, the project, “The Sustainable Development of the Humid Urban Areas of Kigali”, aims to requalify 134 hectares of humid land in the urban and peri-urban areas of the city of Kigali, through the creation of an urban eco-tourism park.
We also have strong ties with Fiji, attacked by climate change and with the Small Islands of the Caribbean: St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Dominica.

With these concrete actions, Italy plans to pursue a leadership in environmental and climate issues that is strong, attentive and open to dialogue. A leadership that has a holistic, creative and innovative approach capable of harmonizing goals and promoting cooperation and partnerships at all levels.

This leadership finds its natural evolution in the candidature we presented two months ago to host the 26th Conference of Parties to the Convention of the United Nations on Combating Climate Change in 2020, which we are sure you will welcome with regard and enthusiasm – the two sentiments that everyday drive us forward and keep us going!

Thank you.