On the behalf of the Government and the people of Vanuatu, let me say " Halo long yufala " everyone and the welcome you all to this significant occasion, the 5th Pacific Water and Wastewater Ministerial Forum and the 12th Pacific Water and Wastewater Annual conference and Expo.
Au Nom du gouvernement et du peuple du Vanuatu, je vous souhaite à tous la bienvenue a vous tous.
Vanuatu is honoured to host for the first time ever this important event. The Vanuatu Government had come member to the Pacific Water and Wastewater Association ( PWWA) in 2017 whereas UNELCO was a founding member of the PWWA. It is very Important for Vanuatu to host this year's event to allow all other Pacific Island Nation to join with to celebrate the years for water 2019-2020.
Water is life. This is a popular axiom in the south Pacific Region underpinning the high level of importance the people of this region place on the resource. In all its forms-rainwater, aquifers, streams, ponds, springs, lake, rivers, ocean water, snowpack ice and water vapour - water is an essential and central resource.
For this fundamental reasons Vanuatu Government through the Council of Ministers in its decision 50 of 2018 had resolved to declare 2019 to 2020 to be years for water. This decision has indicated the political will, commitment, and leadership on water sector and its priorities.
Why this decision? In Vanuatu, as well as in other part of this region and elsewhere, human and natural activities affect virtually all sections of the water cycle, often with additive effects. Over time, human activities such as forest clearing a forestation, agriculture, bushfire, ect, have disturbing influences on the water cycle, including evapotranspiration, flow regimes, groundwater table and sea level.
Also, human activities influences cloud formation via the emission of aerosols and their gaseous precursors. Principal threats to water resources for humans include:
· Water pollution ( the contamination of surface water and groundwater reservoirs with chemicals and microorganisms);
· Water scarcity ( the change of run-off regimes and the change- mostly lowering - of the groundwater table);
· and most importantly, global climate change with consequence such as redistribution of precipitation, rising sea levels, drought, and food insecurity.
The impacts of global warming and consequent projected climate change due to the increasing concentration of Greenhouse Gases ( GHGS) in the atmosphere on water resources have emerged as a matter of grave concern to water resource managers and decision-makers.
Vanuatu is particularly susceptible to climate change due to the declining run-off from water catchments, declining soil fertility, dependency on subsistence agriculture, the prevalence of lifestyle diseases and drought.
Therefore, I am of the view that impact of climate change on water resources should remain an important agenda for climate change deliberations at all international and global forums.
Most importantly, it is primarily at the local and regional scales that policies could be taken to avoid or reduce the negative impact of climate change on the natural environment and society.
Understanding the possible impacts of climate change on water resources is of utmost importance for ensuring its appropriate management and utilization.
Now lest me turn to the theme of this Ministerial Forum. " Smart island water" is the theme for this year pacific Water ministerial Forum and the Pacific Water and wastewater Conference & Expo 2019. Modern information and communication technologies have provided today's societies with an array of innovative capabilities to solve several challenges related to resource efficiency, urbanization and population growth, climate change and development.
Harnessing these technologies within the water sector creates more intelligent means for managing and protecting our region's water resources and lays the foundation for a " water smart " Pacific. The water industry of the future will be smart and energy efficient as a result.
I wanted to come back to the concept of " Innovation" and consider what it means to smaller Island Developing State, such as Vanuatu.
In Vanuatu Innovation to us is basically referring to aw methods policies, strategies and technologies of:
· Improving the stock of the new water
· Improving rain catchment and its quality
· Looking at ways for improving method of water storage
· Using solar panel to pump water
· adopt new improved technology for water purification and recycling
· Considering alternative water sources such as desalination
· Improving affordability and accessibility of water to all citizens
As small vulnerable islands of the vast Pacific, we need not to reinvent the wheel; we should seek out what is available, and test robust system, linking the physical and digital world to ensure tailored, water-smart solutions that cover various water management areas, cycles and value chains based on an integrated approach of all water changing conditions.
The hosting of the Pacific, water and Wastewater Ministerial Forum in Vanuatu will be a critical opportunity for all to reflect back on the challenges faced by individual counties through impacts of climatic change and the natural hazards on our fragile water resources. It is an opportune time to learn from each other and collectively:
· identify smart solutions and to have a united voice to address international water and wastewater issues.
· Discuss how to continue to maintain and sustain a strong partnership to address affecting our nation's fragile water resources,
· Identify best management practise to ensure effective and efficient water resources management and sustainable water infrastructure including wastewater treatment and improved sanitation.
· Identify creative and innovative strategies to secure necessary support and resources to enable us to achieve the very ambitious Sustainable development Goal ( SDG) 6- Clean Water and Sanitation for all.
· identify best strategies an how to protect water sources and ensure its sustainability.
· Identify effective and efficient practices of maintaining water infrastructure.
I am aware that the pacific Water and Wastewater Ministerial Forum, which take place today and tomorrow, will focus on the current status and progress of the Pacific Water and Sanitation sector in relation to the to the SDG 6 targets. We are into the fourth year of implementing the SDG and are well aware of our challenges, progress and best practices.
This forum will gives us all an opportunity to deliberate into areas where collaboration and partnership might best contribute to the Pacific achieving SDG6- drinking water and sanitation targets apart from the Ministerial Forum, the Pacific water and wastewater Conference will also help us all especially, Water and Sanitation Leaders, Young Water Professionals, Suppliers and services Providers to realise their roles and responsibilities in contributing to achieving the SDG goals.
IT will be time when we all require to review, re-think and reassess what works and what does not work and identify best approaches and appropriates solutions that best addresses the real needs of your respective countries.
a fundamental mutual collaborative effort by Pacific island countries and development partners is required for any meaningful progress towards the current 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development targets of clean water and sanitation for all, taking into consideration projected population increase. There is a requirement for all Government at all levels to be committed and ensure available resources in achieving the SDG targets in the next decade.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the Government and the people of Vanuatu are grateful to have all of you here in Vanuatu and we look forward to learning your smart island water solutions and hope you will take the time to learn from what we have accomplished here.
You have very important discussions scheduled for today and tomorrow and I encourage your full participation and engagement and i hope you will enjoy your stay with us here in this small and lovely country.
I now declare the 5th Pacific Water and Wastewater Ministerial Forum and the 12th Pacific Water and wastewater Conference and Expo Officially open.
Thank yu tumas