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Speech by Minister Li Guoying at the General Debate of the Plenary Session of the 2023 UN Water Conference

2023-03-23 22:11

Respected President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China adheres to the new development concept of “innovation, coordination, green, opening up and sharing”, and practices the water management concept of "prioritizing water conservation, balancing spatial distribution, taking systematic approaches, and giving full play to the roles of both government and market" proposed by President Xi Jinping. Throughout the years, China has made significant progress in achieving the water-related goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Firstly, we have accelerated the improvement of the rural water supply project system. We have promoted the integrated water supply for urban and rural areas, upgrade the scale of centralised water supply, and enhance the standard development of small-scale projects in accordance with local conditions. The rural water supply projects have covered all rural population. In 2022, 87% of rural residents have gained access to tap water, 11 percentage points higher than that in 2015. We have accelerated the construction of the national water network. The national water supply capacity of water projects has reached 890 billion cubic meters, which can effectively defend water crisis in a year of major drought. 

Secondly, the National Water Saving Action Plan has been fully implemented. The water consumption per 10,000 RMB of GDP is 49.6 cubic metres and per 10,000 RMB of industrial added value is 24.1 cubic metres in 2022, 33.4 % and 50.3 % lower than in 2015 respectively. With 6 % of the world's fresh water resources, China has provided water for nearly 20 % of the world's population, and created more than 18% of the world's total economic output. 

Thirdly, we have implemented the river and lake chief system nationwide. 1.2 million river and lake chiefs have taken up their duties. With every river and lake under care, more and more rivers and lakes have regained life and vitality. 

Fourthly, we are actively promoting international exchange and cooperation, and continuously supporting developing countries in the fields of technology, information, scientific research and engineering, to enhance their water governance capacity.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Based on China's practice and experience in implementing water-related goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we put forward the following four initiatives.

Firstly, everyone has the basic right to safe drinking water, while in most cases, access to this right is far beyond the reach of individual efforts, especially for people living in poverty, drought and remote areas. Thus, governments, civil societies and the entire international community should provide support and assistance to guarantee everyone’s equitable access to this basic right.

Secondly, we should fully understand that freshwater resources are limited and there is no substitute. Therefore, economical and intensive use of freshwater resources is a common obligation and responsibility of each and everyone of the global village. We should comprehensively improve economical and intensive use of water resources in all sectors, raise agricultural water use efficiency, reduce industrial waste water emission, and decrease water leakage and loss in urban areas.

Thirdly, we should respect the right of rivers to survive in nature, treat water as living entities, develop river ethics, protect river’s healthy life and achieve a harmonious coexistence between human and river.

Fourthly, in the face of the grave challenge of global climate change and its intensifying impact, we should give full play to UN agencies in providing a platform for governments, international organizations, think tanks, civil societies and other stakeholders, which have respective strengths in responding to global climate change, to exchange and cooperate, so as to pool our wisdom and strength to address challenges regarding water disasters, water resources, water environment and water ecology issues.

Led by President Xi Jinping's Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, China is ready to work with the international community and make more new contribution to achieve the water-related goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to jointly draft a new chapter on water governance in promoting a community of shared future.

Thank you! 

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