Li Guoying, minister of water resources, speaks at the 18th World Water Congress in Beijing, Sept 11. (Photo/China News Service)
China's water resources management strategy that prioritizes water conservation offers viable solutions for countries around the world, as they strive to cope with mounting water-related challenges amid climate change.
Li Guoying, minister of water resources, made the remarks on Monday, as the 18th World Water Congress, themed "Water for All: Harmony between Humans and Nature", kicked off in Beijing.
As one of the world's largest congresses linking water policymakers and researchers with policy practitioners globally, the congress has been organized every three years by the International Water Resources Association since 1973. Co-hosted by China's Ministry of Water Resources, the congress will run through Friday.
"We are now in an era full of challenges. Due to climate change and human activities, countries around the globe are facing common water-related problems such as frequent flooding, water shortages, damage to aquatic ecosystem and water pollution," Li said.
More than 2 billion people still live in countries with highly stressed water resources. The world is not on track to reach water-related goals as envisaged in the United Nations'2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.
The minister, however noted that the current era is one full of hope, as public awareness about building a shared future for mankind is growing, and there is also a strong willingness among countries to enhance exchange and cooperation over water governance.
"The nations are all proactively exploring and seeking water governance strategies and solutions that can be used for reference," he said.
Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping's water management strategy of "prioritizing water conservation, balancing spatial distribution, taking systematic approaches, and giving full play to the roles of both government and market", Li said, China has made historical achievements in water resources management and solved many long-standing water management challenges that had previously remained unresolved.
Water management projects across China have a combined capability to supply almost 900 billion cubic meters of water annually, compared to 700 billion cubic meters in 2012, he said. Until the end of last year, 87 percent of China's rural population had access to tap water.
Highly consistent with the water-related goals in the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, President Xi's water management strategy has proven to be effective in China's water governance practices, Li stressed.
Considering the risks and challenges the world faces in ensuring water security and China's experiences in water management, Li proposed that the world follows the strategy to tackle the common challenges in water governance.
The available freshwater resources on the Earth only accounts for about 3 percent of the world's total water resources, he said. According to a global water resources report released by the World Meteorological Organization, currently, 3.6 billion people worldwide face water shortages for at least one month each year, and it is estimated that this number will increase to over 5 billion by 2050.
"We must fully recognize the limited and irreplaceable characteristic of freshwater resources, and jointly fulfill our obligations and responsibilities to sustainably use them," he said.
Loic Fauchon, president of the World Water Council, called on countries to reach a political water deal that can help promote balance between water for humans and water for nature, against the backdrop of climate change and population increase.
"We should feel responsible to define a new relationship between humankind and water. I deeply believe it. And I believe that we need to lay the foundations for a political water deal. Because we all know that water is under threat," he said.