Excellency, Mr. HONG Jeong Kee, Vice Minister for Environment of the Republic of Korea,
Mr. KWON Young-jin, Mayor of Daegu Metropolitan City,
Mr. Gabriel Eckstein, President of the International Water Resources Association,
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you at the Seventeenth World Water Congress in Daegu.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of our interconnected systems.
While the Asia-Pacific region is already impacted by water-related disasters that range from floods and cyclones to droughts, the pandemic demonstrated how the impacts of natural and biological hazards are interwoven.
However, just as every cloud has a silver lining, this has also given us an opportunity to better understand cascading risks and evolve more resilient systems that will help us build back better.
Our flagship Asia-Pacific Disaster Report in 2019 highlighted that droughts account for nearly two-thirds of disaster losses in the region.
They undermine efforts to achieve development objectives by disempowering at-risk communities and widening socio-economic inequalities.
Allow me to share some insights on how regional policy action can be promoted for adaptation to drought.
In South-East Asia, droughts have increasingly generated multi-sectoral impacts.
Jointly produced with the ASEAN secretariat, ESCAP’s publication series, Ready for the Dry Years, presents the ongoing and likely geographical shifts in drought and provides policy recommendations to address these dynamics.
This initiative facilitated the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on the Strengthening of Adaptation to Drought at the 37th ASEAN Summit in November 2020, which called for the development of the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action for Adaptation to Drought.
Regional strategic actions are key drivers of adaptation and resilience to climate-related disasters.
In this regard, the ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction, which met in August, recommended a scale-up of regional and subregional cooperation strategies that integrate climate-related disasters and the associated health perspectives.
Such strategies would complement national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The World Water Congress is an important venue for policymakers and key stakeholders to share experiences, knowledge and new developments in addressing water-related issues.
I believe that discussions here will not only enhance our understanding of the problems but will also contribute to building capacity to tackle water-related disasters, among others.
Thank you very much for your attention.
I wish you a very successful event.