As prepared for delivery
Dear students, parents and teachers,
Environmental activists, volunteers,
Dear Government representatives,
It is a great pleasure to address you today on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme.
I’d like to thank all of you for your interest and your continued active participation and commitment towards these webinar series on water.
I see here a lot of young students, pupils, parents on a Saturday, all tuned in
Water is an indispensable source of life, revival and development. We must do everything we can to strengthen our joint efforts to protect water and use water resources efficiently.
I’d like to thank the Children and Youth Development Centre of the Ministry of Education for collaborating on the organization of this webinar in these very challenging times.
I’d like to thank colleagues and experts from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources for cooperating and sharing their valuable knowledge and experience to train people on the efficient use of water resources.
I’d also like to thank our colleagues, the Deputy Ministers Firudin Gurbanov and Vugar Karimov from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.
I am confident that together with our partners, young friends and parents, we will be able to improve our habits to make more efficient use of water.
Water is at the centre of economic and social development. It is vital for maintaining health, for growing food, for generating energy, for managing the environment and for creating jobs
Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to believe that it will always be plentiful. However, fresh water – the water we drink and bathe in and irrigate our fields with – is incredibly rare.
· Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is located in glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.
· Some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year.
Climate change disrupts the cycle of precipitation, and population growth increases the demand for water. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. By 2040, one-fifth of the world's countries will have low water levels.
Azerbaijan faces serious water shortages and threats of drought. Already it is ranked 18th among the 33 most water-stressed countries in the world.
The impacts of water scarcity affect the youngest people in the harshest ways.
Globally, 844 million people lack access to clean water and some 600 million children live in areas with very little access to water.
80 per cent of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
Around two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework.
Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of global water withdrawal.
These data are striking.
But the good news is that youth are already active agents of change worldwide.
Young people are actively engaged at local, national and global levels in raising awareness, running educational programmes, conserving nature, promoting renewable energy and adopting environmentally-friendly practices.
International experience shows that some countries have managed to solve the problem of water shortage through more efficient management of water resources in different sectors.
The work undertaken with and by children and youth around the globe has been crucial in influencing governments to reach agreements on measures to tackle climate change, including problems related to water.
Youth also have a major influence on the way adults behave towards the environment.
Already the message is getting across – from teachers to pupils to parents – that we all need to take better care of nature.
For example, many children are now urging their parents to stop habits like water loss.
This pressure is effective, since adults are more likely to listen to feedback on protecting and preserving the environment coming from a child rather than from a potentially threatening adult.
Children have shown they are ready to volunteer their time and effort to conservation, including planting trees, cleaning up litter, taking care of animals, and saving water. As the experiences of many countries have shown, your potential is great.
As you know, in 2015 all UN members collectively adopted the UN Sustainable Development Agenda and identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. The aim is to improve quality of life throughout the entire planet.
Achieving these goals requires collective efforts by all participants and stakeholders, governments, civil society, media, private sector, unions and academia.
UNDP is spearheading the implementation of numerous projects in the areas of climate change, biodiversity, land degradation, and protection from chemicals. We will continue assisting the country in its efforts to improve the quality of life.
But we need young people as key allies.
We need you to speak even louder, to your friends and classmates, to your neighbours and parents.
We need you to try to organize volunteer groups and take collective action for protecting the environment and promoting the more efficient use of water resources.
We need you to make use of social media to make sure your messages are amplified and heard, across communities, regions and the whole country.
Only through collective efforts can we improve the environment in Azerbaijan and ensure a greener and more sustainable future for all.
Thank you very much for listening.