Medical &Health

PM for greater transboundary water collaboration

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 18, 2017 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today underlined the importance of greater collaboration on development and utilizing transboundary freshwater resources for economic development.

"Water is wealth. For us, water is about everyday sustenance - in cities, across villages - over the ages. So we need to understand the 'value' of water," she said while addressing a discussion on World's Underwater on the sidelines of World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting here today.

The prime minister said water can no longer be a 'free input' and 'infinite resource' to production or development. Water has to be approached as a most critical 'global common' in respect of sustainable development, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said cooperation in freshwater and oceanic resources can serve as an equalizer in addressing inequalities. For countries like Bangladesh and many coastal and island countries, ability to tap and utilize freshwater and marine resources define bulk of people's living existence, she added.

Appreciating the role of private sector's increasing interest in water resources, she said many businesses hold critical knowledge - science - data that we need desperately.

"Any solution will have to be beneficial, affordable and sustainable to large majority of our poor and marginal people," she said adding that Bangladesh is ready to consider any form of partnership between global capital and knowledge providers and our local and community actors on waters.

The prime minister however said any collaboration on water demands 'mutual trust' and 'respect' among peoples, states and business. We must approach collaboration on in terms of securing "shared prosperity" through "shared responsibility", securing win-win outcome and equitable benefit-sharing among the all states and communities.

Pointing out the peacefully delimited our maritime boundary with Myanmar and India in the Bay of Bengal, she said adding Bangladesh industry is trying to source cost-effective solutions and technologies to transform and be responsible partner in global supply chains.

But, if innovative solutions or technologies are prohibitive, then neither States nor business gain, she said.

Terming the technology as crucial for water conversation, she said with rapid changes in our economies and vertical transformation of agriculture, demand for water in agriculture is rising whereas freshwater sources and groundwater resources continue to deplete.

"We need greater access to technologies, support to develop adaptive solutions in improving water use efficiency across the entire chain of production and processing. In climate change context, that is when we can develop less water-intensive, stress-tolerant varieties," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said collaboration on development and utilizing trans-boundary freshwater resources can make great economics great. We also see an urgent need to address pollution, declining environmental flows, watershed degradation to secure river basin resources and eco-systems.

Trans-boundary rivers, wetlands, watersheds are precious wealth in any region. Trans-boundary waters drive economic growth, ensure social development, secure political stability and determine cross-border engagements, she said.

Highlighting settlement of the Ganges water between Bangladesh and India in 90s, the prime minister said we would need more efforts to facilitate trans-boundary agreements and joint governing institutions for all basin and aquifers.

"Moving on trans-boundary water collaboration also demands visionary leadership and ability to manage populism," she said.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)