Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Tajikistan hosts a high-profile global water conference with Saudi participation

The embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan has announced the successful organization of the Third High-level International Conference o the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2028 in Dushanbe. A high-level Saudi delegation is participating in the ongoing Dushanbe conference, organized by the government of Tajikistan in cooperation with the United Nations to support the implementation of the goals of the International Decade for Action.

This was disclosed by Tajikistan Ambassador Akram Karimi, while speaking at a presentation at the Riyadh-based Tajikistan embassy, here. The event was attended by several officials and diplomats including Mohamed El Zarkani, UN Resident Coordinator for Saudi Arabia, Margaret Jones Williams, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dr Emrullah Isler, Turkish ambassador, and Madiyar Menibekov, Kazakhstan ambassador.

In his speech, Ambassador Karimi said that the Third International High-Level Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028”, is being hosted by Dushanbe city, from June 10 to June 13, 2024 within the framework of the “Dushanbe Water Process”, under the patronage of His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, president of the Republic of Tajikistan. “For two decades, Tajikistan has been leading international water issues under the umbrella of the United Nations,” said the diplomat. 

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted 9 (nine) resolutions on water issues based on Tajikistan’s international initiatives. He said that the International Decade “Water for Sustainable Development”--2018-2028 aims to support sustainable development and integrated management of water resources, and to enhance cooperation and partnership to support the achievement of internationally agreed goals and objectives in the field of water resources, including the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The prime minister of Tajikistan and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs are the co-chairs of the conferences held within the framework of the Dushanbe Water Process. Ambassador Karimi said that “the main objective of the Third Dushanbe Water Action Decade Conference is to further enhance common efforts and support the implementation of voluntary commitments registered in the Water Action Agenda of the UN Water Conference, as well as to stimulate new partnerships and accelerate actions to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” 

The Dushanbe Conference also aims to share best practices and innovative solutions, strengthen partnerships among stakeholders, he added. He thanked the Kingdom and its leadership for their continued support to Tajikistan in activating its international initiatives, especially related to water resources. “ There is no doubt that the Kingdom has exerted remarkable efforts in achieving the sustainable development goals, including the 6th  goal, which aims to ensure the availability of water and sanitation services for all and the sustainability of their management, he added.

In light of its interest in water issues, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to establish the World Water Organization, which enjoys the support and approval of Tajikistan as a pioneering country in activating water-related initiatives. The Kingdom has also become a pioneering and pivotal country in activating initiatives aimed at protecting the environment, combating desertification, and confronting the challenges of climate change.

In his address at the presentation, UN Resident Coordinator El Zarkani said that “Tajikistan has been a champion in promoting international cooperation on water management and since 2003 hosted around nine high-level events on freshwater issues, regional cooperation and water for sustainable development.” He said that the international cooperation on water is crucial for managing shared resources, ensuring economic and social stability, preventing conflict, enhancing ecosystem health and sustainability, and addressing many other global challenges.

To this end, El Zarkani noted that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the need for transformative actions and greater investments to address water-related challenges. He called for a "Paris moment" for water, highlighting its importance in health, climate resilience, economic development, and social stability. As a host of the Conference, Tajikistan has a unique opportunity to garner political support to raise global ambition and actions on water management backed by firm commitments, partnerships, and financing. 

At the UN Summit of the Future in September this year, water will also be a central topic. Discussions will focus on the necessity of ensuring water security and sustainable management to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 6, which targets clean water and sanitation for all. The Summit aims to foster global cooperation, enhance water governance, and drive innovative solutions to manage water resources more effectively.

Applauding the efforts of Saudi Arabia, El Zarkani said that he would like to recognize the key role of Saudi Arabia in enhancing international cooperation on water issues. “Saudi Arabia’s announcement of the establishment of a Global Water Organization that aims to address global water supply challenges will be a critical platform that enhances international cooperation on water issues,” he added. The UN system stands ready to support these key efforts to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 6.  

He pointed out that the current year is the year of COP16 on combatting desertification. “We are delighted that COP16 will be hosted in Riyadh during 2-13 December 2024,” added the UN official. Saudi Arabia, he said, has shown its leadership in championing initiatives related to land restoration and drought resilience. “We look forward to supporting the Kingdom in successfully hosting COP16 and bringing the agenda of land restoration and drought resilience to the center of the global discourse,” he noted. A visual presentation about the Dushanbe Water Action Conference was also made during the event.

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