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Remarks by H.E. Abdullah Abdullah at the Conference on the Implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”

Dushanbe, Tajikistan –  June 9, 2015

Your Excellency President Emomali Rahmon,
Your Excellency Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my dear friend H.E. Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, for the warm hospitality shown to me and the Afghan delegation during our stay in the beautiful city of Dushanbe, and for his leadership on the critical and timely issue of Water for Life, and water sustainability.

I would also like to commend the organizers of this important conference, in particular our Chair, Prime Minister Rasulzoda, UN-Water and other international and regional organizations and partners, for the tremendous efforts over the past decade, leading up to the convening of this high level conference today on the implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”, 2005-2015.

Tajikistan initiated this process more than a decade ago at the United Nations, and today Tajikistan is bringing us all together to look back at our collective achievements, lessons learnt, best practices, remaining challenges, and the way forward.

I thank our Tajik colleagues, the United Nations, relevant organizations and partners, NGOs and other stakeholders for their steadfastness and commitment to local, regional and global water concerns as part of this process, as well as related initiatives underway in the international arena.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In recent Water Summit conferences, water was recognized as one of the top three development risks in the world. Not only is it a finite resource, but it is intimately connected to economic growth and the sustainability of human well-being.

As we all know by now, water is no longer just a natural resource that requires good management and usage, but it is increasingly becoming a strategic resource that can impact good neighborliness, economic well-being, and social and political order as a cross-cutting element in key development fields.

Furthermore, as demonstrated by demographics, climate change cycles affecting nature and all species, environmental challenges, and increasing human needs and demands, water is a key commodity for more than just sustenance and survival.

Water is now an industry, and seen by many businesses as “part of the circular economy, climate change, developing technologies, bringing investment into the sector and new models for financing.”

It is therefore imperative that we harness, manage, use and share this key commodity in the best manner possible, alongside all stakeholders – public, private and otherwise. This objective requires a new spirit of cooperation and action on the global scale.

All countries have recognized this imperative. Numerous studies and evaluations have been presented, accords and protocols signed, but today, as we realize the growing significance of “water for life”, this new spirit will also need to employ the following features: open dialogue; innovative thinking; scientific input; adapting legal and policy frameworks to new realities; taking collective, regional or local action based on priorities; usage of new technologies, mitigating disasters and shortages; and adopting measures to preempt disagreement and tension.

This is a tall order, but with the valuable work performed over the years at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels, we have solid data and analysis that can help us move to the next stage of cooperation and action.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As a landlocked mountainous nation in South-Central Asia, Afghanistan is in a unique position both as a source, transit point, corridor and estuary of water. We want to use our geography, resource capacity, and regional as well as international obligations to maximize usage of water for human, agricultural, power generation and other purposes under clearly mandated and legally binding regimes both at home as well as in the neighborhood.

Over three decades of political instability and conflict have eroded Afghan infrastructure, capacities and resource management abilities. But we have made significant strides in order to catch up with national development objectives as part of overall reconstruction strategies adopted over the past 13 years with the generous help of many friends in the international community, including all our neighbors.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all countries and international organizations present at this conference for their contributions and assistances to my country since 2001.

Afghanistan is now in a position to engage more constructively at the regional and bilateral levels to address win-win solutions with our friends and neighbors, based on international legal guidelines and prior experiences, taking into account the legitimate interests of all stakeholders.

Water is not and should not become part of zero-sum policies or relations. Water can and should become a resource for friendship, growth and economic integration.

Not only do we all suffer when water is wasted or not used according to established rules and norms, but we also fail to achieve other social and economic development objectives in a coherent manner.

We welcome the result of the work done thus far, and congratulate all entities, governmental, scientific, humanitarian, private sector and others for their valuable contributions.

We look forward to working with you on assuring that future generations, and our economies will not face water shortage or water tension challenges.

Thank you.

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