China ready to share solutions ahead of high-profile UN 2023 water conference
Published: Mar 22, 2023 01:57 AM
The Lancang River in Southwest China's Yunnan Province Photo: VCG

The Lancang River in Southwest China's Yunnan Province Photo: VCG

A Chinese government delegation will attend the 2023 UN Water Conference, to be held at the UN headquarters in New York from March 22 to 24, to share solutions and lessons and promote concerted action to achieve water-related goals and targets.

The Chinese delegation is composed of high-level representatives and headed by Li Guoying, Minister of Water Resources. The delegation will be co-chair of the interactive dialogue "Water for Sustainable Development" at the conference, and will make due contributions to solve water crises.

The 2023 UN Water Conference is the highest profile and most influential water-related thematic conference at the UN level in the past 50 years, and has attracted widespread attention globally. It is a conference of milestone significance, and will clarify the path for the achievement of water-related goals in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Times learned from the Ministry of Water Resources on Tuesday.

It comes at a time when 3.6 billion people lack sufficient water for at least one month each year, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

There are 8 billion people on Earth today, and water demand has soared since the first UN Water Conference was held in Argentina in 1977. The UN 2023 Water Conference is, as the UN says, "the most important water event in a generation," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

In dealing with various emerging crises, China has also made efforts that can be shared with the international community.

In recent decades, China has used water efficiently, keeping the total water consumption within 610 billion cubic meters every year, the Global Times learned from the Ministry of Water Resources. At present, water use efficiency in some Chinese regions such as Beijing and Tianjin has reached the international advanced level.

China also continues to build a national network for water resource reallocation, such as the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, which is the world's largest inter-basin water diversion project and has the largest population of beneficiaries.

China has also made efforts to ensure safe water supply for rural residents. By the end of 2022, 87 percent of China's rural residents had access to tap water, an increase of 11 percentage points over 2015. This has greatly alleviated water shortages for the vast majority of rural residents.

According to the UNICEF and WHO, China's rural water supply is at the leading level in developing countries. In addition, China is also actively enhancing the use of digital technology in water resources.

All these measures have provided solid water resource support for China's modernization drive.

In recent years, China has also injected new momentum into the development of water resources in other countries along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The Coca Codo Sinclair hydropower station in Ecuador, for example, has changed the local history of relying on foreign electricity imports, boosted infrastructure construction in several related fields and created 15,000 jobs for local people.

The Kaleta hydropower station, Guinea's first major hydropower project, has greatly solved the power shortage in the capital city and its surrounding areas, benefiting at least 4 million residents, according to Xinhua.

So far, China has provided online and offline training to nearly 4,000 water technicians and government officials from 112 countries. China has also set up five overseas technology transfer and training centers in Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Serbia and Senegal. For five consecutive years, China has sponsored more than 200 people from Mekong River countries to study for master's degrees in water resources in China on full scholarships, the Global Times learned from the Ministry of Water Resources.

The coming conference kicks off at the halfway point of the International Decade for Action "Water for Sustainable Development," adopted by the UN General Assembly on World Water Day, March 22, 2018. Also, the UN hopes that the conference can mark "a watershed moment" in the pursuit of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The UN is expected to adopt an outcome document that will provide guidance and recommendations for further action on water-related issues at all levels, through mobilizing political will, financial resources and partnerships.

China will, as always, maintain exchanges and cooperation with UN agencies in the field of water resources, actively share advanced ideas and experience, and share the fruits of water-related scientific research and development, to promote a multi-tiered global network of partners, according to Li.