Asia-Pacific water pact signed

30206597-01_bigHeads of state attending the second Asia-Pacific Water Summit yesterday jointly pledged to prevent their economies and societies from flood and drought disasters.

The joint declaration was made at the culmination of the summit, underlining the leaders’ awareness that economic growth in the Asia-Pacific is vulnerable because the region is “at most risk of facing natural disasters”, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said.

She was speaking at the summit leaders’ forum Monday.

The nine heads of state, from Thailand, Brunei, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Georgia, Tajikistan and Vanuatu, adopted the Chiang Mai Declaration, National Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said.

They agreed to tighten academic and technological cooperation to better manage water, including joint studies to assess impacts on regional economies as a result of floods, droughts and climate change.

Copies of the full text of the Chiang Mai Declaration are available from the Water Summit’s website in English.

Ms Yingluck stressed what she called the significance of this cooperation.

“No country in this region can handle these challenges alone,” she said.

Thailand is ready to take part in any efforts to combat flooding and water shortages, she told the meeting.

She said her government is determined to “turn crisis into opportunity” by redesigning the national water management systems.

With such a move, she said, the country can regain confidence from the public and foreign companies in investing and expanding their businesses here.

Some national leaders admitted they are likely to be at odds over water usage on trans-boundary rivers but, under the move towards more effective water management in the region, they will be aware of the importance of closer cooperation between countries.

South Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won said his country is ready to transfer technological know-how about preventing water-based disasters to other countries.

His country emphasises developing structures and facilities to curb risks in areas prone to such disasters, he said.

Environmental groups Monday said they would closely monitor the government’s implementation of the Chiang Mai Declaration, which requires governments to allow public participation in water management.

The groups have gathered in Chiang Mai through the summit and organised their own forum on alternative water management in parallel with the international meeting.

 

 

Source : Bangkok Post | 21 May 2013

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