Saturday, 13 March 2021 23:03

Baghdad Water Conference: UN calls for action to improve water resources management, critical to Iraq’s future prosperity and to global food security

Baghdad, 13 March 2021 - Growing water scarcity requires immediate action to improve local and national resource management as well as enhance regional cooperation, the UN warned at the 1st Baghdad International Water Conference. Modern technology, public awareness on conservation and improved resource management can help overcome the increasing challenges in the future.

The two-day conference, organized by the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, brings together senior officials from the Government of Iraq, representatives from international organizations including the UN, as well as international experts and diplomats. It aims to find ways to overcome future challenges relating to water availability, exchange scientific and policy expertise on water resource management, promote exchange of modern technologies, and raise awareness on conservation. Discussions will also focus on Iraq’s water situation and cooperation with neighboring countries, as well as capacity building in Iraq for improved management of water resources, the role of international organizations in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), and planning and investment in the sector.

Speaking at the opening session today, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq/Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Irena Vojackova-Sollorano emphasized that water is not only a critical source of livelihood for Iraq but also an important driver of peace, sustainable development and future prosperity.

“This international conference is important for Iraq and the region. Water must be shared at all levels: globally; regionally; between countries; and between men and women at the community level. It must be a source of cooperation rather than conflict,” she said.

Known in ancient times as Mesopotamia, the land between the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates, Iraq’s history and civilizations were built around water. This heritage is being imperiled today by population growth, increased consumption, decrease in availability of fresh surface water and other factors, including conflicts.

Addressing the conference via a video link, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Dr. QU Dongyu, stated that the transformation of agri-food systems is at the heart of FAO’s mandate to provide safer, more affordable and healthier diets for the world’s rapidly growing population. Noting that “Water is the essence of life and at the core of the agri-food systems," he highlighted three related concepts of paramount importance: Water Governance Frameworks, Innovation and Capacity Development.

Stating that FAO strongly advocates for the adoption of science-based natural resource management practices that harness the power of innovation and digital technologies, he noted “Innovation is not only about new technologies, it is also about financing, networking and new business models to accelerate the transformation process. It combines human creativity, technology, science and entrepreneurship by engaging all stakeholders, from national and regional authorities, civil society, academia and the private sectors.”

In her remarks, Ms. Vojackova-Sollorano outlined UN engagement with the Government of Iraq on several strands of work covering water, sanitation, hygiene, water resources management, water quality and management of water-related disasters. The UN is further responding to the humanitarian needs of refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees and other vulnerable citizens as well as helping the government address structural problems and facilitate regional cooperation.

Dwindling water reserves call for immediate action, Ms. Vojackova-Sollorano said, adding: The UN family in Iraq stands ready to provide advice and technical support to help improve water management for all Iraqis.

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  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Saturday, 13 March 2021 23:17

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