12 March 2021, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Opening Remarks by
Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UNDP Resident Representative in Tajikistan
Honorable the First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources,
Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing deep appreciation to the Government of Tajikistan, in particular Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, for convening today’s workshop, UNDP is very pleased to support this important dialogue on coordination of water sector reforms in Tajikistan.
Water is the source of life. But globally it is under threat. Demand for water is increasing but at the same time there is unprecedented levels of erosion, degradation and depletion of water sources due to climate change and pollution.
Water is already a source of conflict within and between countries. For example, by number of watercourses shared by two or more countries, and about 60 per cent of all aquifers are transboundary, the risks of water disputes, provoking conflict over shared basins, need urgent measure to prevent crises.
Water and Sanitation are also Human Rights. Right to safe drinking water was recognized by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council as part of international law in 2010, and in 2015 the GA also recognized sanitation as a distinct right and all Governments have committed to fulfill these Human Rights.
The indispensable value of water for sustainable and inclusive development also led to the adoption of a specific SDG6 in Agenda 2030 but we know that without water none of the other SDGs, whether health, food security, resiliency to climate change or fight to overcome COVID-19 pandemic can be achieved.
In other words, water is fundamental for peace and security, Human Rights and development and SDG 6 provides the framework for action.
But Sustainable Development Goal 6 is badly off track for a variety of reasons including lack of financing. According to recently published UN-Water SDG 6 Progress Update, Tajikistan, like many other countries, is not on track. The good news is that some trends are positive. For instance, the proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services is increasing and the level of water stress has been decreasing in recent years. Of course, the impact of COVID-19 still needs to be assessed.
Achievement of SDG 6 requires integrated, systematic and accelerated efforts at all levels which cannot be realized without multi-sectoral coordination for better water resource management, implementation and monitoring. Tajikistan is also uniquely positioned to influence reforms at international and regional levels.
The President of the Republic of Tajikistan has accorded very high priority to water and has also launched many International Water Initiatives. His initiative International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly for the period between 2018 and 2028 and Tajikistan has been hosting high level international water conferences in Dushanbe, together with the UN, to adopt actions required to achieve SDG6. UNDP has been proud partner of these conferences, since the adoption of the first decade 2005-2015 focusing on MDGs, which have contributed to water policy reforms in the country.
Tajikistan is also actively engaged at regional level through several initiatives. Currently it is holding the rotating chairmanship of the International Fund to Save the Aral Sea. IFAS is also undergoing a reform process, under the leadership of Tajikistan.
At the country level, several reforms have been taken and water sector reform programme (2016-2025) continues to guide this process, community based infrastructure for drinking water supply is being built, there are actions on pricing and tariffs, river basin organizations have been established but still there are many gaps, particularly for systematic and coordinated water governance to ensure sustainability, accountability, participation and access to water to achieve SDG6. To this end, it is important that water is integrated in the new mid-term development program me and national budget and support of international community is aligned to bridge the gaps.
Multiple actions at multiple levels by multiple partners would obviously require well- structured and results oriented coordination efforts, we hope that the outcome of this workshop will be useful in strengthening coordinated water sector governance and will also help in determining capacity needs to accelerate efforts.
UNDP has been engaged in the water reform process for two decades and is determined to step-up its support to water sector. In particular, policy reforms to achieve SDG6, innovative solutions for institutional strengthening and exchange of best practices, particularly to scale-up drinking water supply in rural areas. We are committed to work with all partners to support the government implement water sector reforms and promote inclusive, equitable and sustainable development of Tajikistan.