NEW YORK: Pakistan suggested transboundary cooperation with most of world’s water resources, being shared between two or more countries, as this key South Asian country depends 70% on surface freshwater.
Speaking in a dialogue on ‘transboundary waters and cooperation for peace at the annual parliamentary hearing, Pakistani delegate Senator Farooq Naek said that cooperation in this regard plays a crucial role, in supporting wider regional integration, peace and sustainable development, as well as in tackling regional security challenges.
The annual parliamentary hearing is a joint initiative between the president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Senator Farooq Naek said that it also plays a crucial role, in addressing climate change impacts, which place significant pressure on world’s transboundary waters.
UN officials said that the hearing will provide a parliamentary contribution to the UN Water Conference, which is being held from March 22-24, 2023, in New York. More than 250 members of parliament, speakers, advisers and related officials from 60 countries are participating in the event at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
In his remarks, Senator Farooq Naek said that strengthening transboundary water cooperation was also essential for reaching, water-related Sustainable Development Goals, and broader sustainable development targets. For Pakistan, transboundary water cooperation was of extreme importance as this South Asian country depended on Indus River Basin’s major tributaries, he said.
He also said that Pakistan’s water economy was overwhelmingly reliant on the Indus River – a river that flows across international political boundaries and is thus trans-boundary in nature. In this regard, he cited the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT), a water-distribution treaty between Pakistan and India, negotiated by the World Bank, to use the water available in the Indus River and its tributaries.
For accelerating transboundary actions, in-support water-related targets, the Pakistani delegate called for, among other steps, mobilizing the expertise of UN organizations and its partners. Speaking in a dialogue on financing infrastructure for sanitation and water services, Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi stressed the need for fulfilling 100 billion in annual climate finance by developed countries.
He said there were several challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goals about safe water and sanitation, including increasing population growth, which results in increase in the use of water, management of available groundwater, and contamination of fresh water supplies. He said that the climate change has also become a source of water deficiency.
To overcome challenges, “we believe there are two essential requirements: finance and technology transfers through global cooperation,” he said. Speaking in a dialogue on water conservation, Senator Faisal Saleem Rahman said that water was a key element of national security and was every aspect of the state economy. He said that Pakistan’s national security was linked with its food security, which in turn is directly linked with water security.
He said that public awareness campaigns should be promoted to underscore the importance of conservation policy and sustainable use of water resources in partnership with all stakeholders. Incentives for water conservation be given, such as on taxation where installation of rainwater harvesting in domestic and commercial buildings are done, he said, adding that pricing on basis of use, not on basis of supplies be ensured.