May 14, 2011
The welcome address of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to the participants of The International conference “Towards the 6th World Water Forum – joint action towards water security”
Dear participants! Allow me to warmly welcome the participants of the regional conference in preparation for the 6th World Water Forum - authoritative experts, scientists, representatives of international organizations, environmental movements and financial institutions. There would be no exaggeration to say that in ancient times the water in our region was considered the highest value, the source of life and prosperity. Two great rivers - the Amu Darya and Syr Darya for centuries provided the resident population in Central Asia with water in sufficient quantities for drinking, irrigation of agriculture and the cultivation of agricultural products, primarily food. It is here that many centuries ago and one of the first on our planet, systems of irrigation and water management were built. At the turn of the 21st century the question of the rational and equitable use of water resources has become vital for the people of Central Asia, as in many parts of the world, as reckless regulation of major transboundary rivers, carried out in the second half of the last century, put our region on the brink of ecological disaster. Evidence of this is the tragedy of the Aral Sea, which, practically in the period of life of only one generation, has evolved from a unique, beautiful sea to the drying and disappearing pond, and the Aral Sea region, the once flourishing oasis inevitably turns into a desert. The zone of permanent ecological risk, under the influence of factors negatively affecting the quality of life, health, gene pool, is not only the people living directly in the disaster area, but also the entire region of Central Asia. Shortage of water resources, diversion of cropland turnover, a sharp decrease in flora and fauna, climate change, as well as accelerated melting of mountain glaciers in the Pamir and Tien Shan mountains, where significant part of flow of major rivers in the region is formed, - is a short list of the results of the disappearance of the Aral Sea. Therefore, the issues of rational use of water resources of transboundary rivers of the region, which in all times have provided the vital needs of the countries located in their basins, are particularly important. Today, more than 50 million people living in 6 states in the region depend on the comprehensively thought-out approach and solutions in water resources, primarily river flow span borders. Uzbekistan has supported the decisions of the 5th World Water Forum that access to drinking water is a fundamental human right and that the water crisis is much more dangerous than the energy and finance one. In this regard, the projects that may lead to a total deficit of water resources, catastrophic man-made, environmental, economic and social consequences, bear a great threat to a rational use of water. This is especially important when the issues of food security are coming to the fore, which directly depend on the sustainability of irrigated agriculture and the availability of sufficient water during the growing season. Ignoring these serious challenges will jeopardize the prospects of sustainable development and practically the whole residence of tens of millions of people of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In addition, the proposed places for construction of new giant hydro are in an area where, proven and confirmed by repeated earthquakes, seismic activity is 9 points. In case of a powerful earthquake that has happened many times in this region, technological catastrophe may occur which will carry the threat to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Today, humankind has an important task - to preserve nature for present and future generations, protect it from threats and challenges, which could affect the lives of people and disrupt the existing system of environmental management. In this regard, the need to establish mechanisms for effective regional cooperation to secure the use of water of transboundary rivers, based on generally accepted international rules and regulations to ensure equality, mutual benefit and fairness to each party gets vital importance for all residents of our region. Problems of rational use of water resources, preservation of the hydrological balance at the regional and global levels, the preservation and saving of water resources, improvement of farming systems to mitigate the amount of water use, upgrading of water infrastructure, introduction of modern water-saving technologies – are, in essence, the questions that are put forward today by our lives in the Agenda of our utmost attention and concerned discussions. Let me express my confidence that the results of the regional conference in Tashkent city will become a reliable basis for further fruitful cooperation in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and make a weighty contribution to the preparation of the 6th World Water Forum. I wish all participants of the conference fruitful work and further success in your important and noble work.


Islam Karimov President of the Republic of Uzbekistan


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