26 January 2014
World Economic Forum, Mongolia, water
The meeting of the 2030 WRG Governing Council
was followed by the main Davos water discussion, with heads of states and major intergovernmental organisation, business and NGOs. In the morning-long session we discussed progress in, and outlook for, the WRG work, and the way how we could make sure that a unique water goal with four main targets
becomes a part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
In his closing remarks, President Elbegdorj of Mongolia made it clear that we have to think broad and deep, be practical in the end, but only after achieving a more comprehensive understanding of the true importance of water, and the role private sector can play. I have noted down a few important statements he made. These are in quotation marks because they come from him, but this is by no means an official text, just my personal recollection of what he said. Let me just add how grateful we all are to the President for what he said.
‘My mother used to say that water meant life. Water really is the mother of all living. If water is polluted, if water is threatened then I think our global mother is threatened. Because of that we are here to save our global mother.
‘The second issue, I am really encouraged to see our current partners in the Water Resources Group: since there are private companies involved in this great idea, I am convinced that this movement will be very successful. I really believe that a large number of private institutions is often smarter than a government. So private institutions should come together to support our governments to ensure governmental programmes are implemented. Thanks, therefore, to the companies already involved, and I hope we will see more mining companies joining in the future.
‘In Mongolia there is a close link between mining and the water issue. We have been enjoying very high economic growth over the last four years now – 12% last year. To maintain the pace of growth we need to focus on our water management. We have to address the urban water management issue, the agricultural water management issue and the mining water management issue. In partnerships with our private institutions and with our communities, I think we will be very successful as a developing country and successful in protecting our precious environment.
‘Now we have to come up also with a global perspective on the issue: one single sustainable development goal on water. We must make a common coordinated effort to put water very high on the UN post-2015 agenda. Mongolia can promote that initiative in the Asia-Pacific area. There are potential candidates in other continents, Africa for example, to further support that great idea. As a member of the world community we can bring that to the agenda of the UN General Assembly, we can bring that to the table of the Secretary-General and we have a wonderful promoter in Peter for that. We have some of the most influential UN representatives here in the room. Mrs Helen Clark of UNDP, but also the UN Environment Program and other intergovernmental organisations can also speak up.
‘Once we have the goals and targets fixed and approved, we can come together again in this group and discuss a roadmap for implementation.
‘I really believe that if we solve the water problem we will solve one of the biggest problems mankind faces, a problem of development, one that could even mean war, and clearly also a social problem.
‘Water should be managed more carefully than ever, because, as I said in the beginning, water is the mother of all living and because of that we have to save our mother.’