Prime minister Sheikh Hasina today emphasised the need for taking a basin-based approach to manage waters of trans-boundary rivers alongside a better water management system to 'build back better' from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“In the Asia-Pacific region, we must combine our forces to share good practices, knowledge and technologies to help address our common challenges. A basin-wise approach is needed to manage the waters of trans-boundary rivers," she said.
She also attached importance to regional or sub-regional cooperation, including hydro-power generation and transmission.
The prime minister put the importance in a video message broadcast in the two-day Fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit being held in the Japanese city of Kumamoto with the theme "Water for Sustainable Development - Best Practices and the Next Generation".
Describing water as vital for life, she said, "It is fundamental for sustainable development and for promoting a culture of peace. We need to ensure sound water management to 'build back better' from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic."
The premier said that they are indebted to future generations to deliver on their international commitments on water, including the water related SDGs.
"Our youths must be empowered so that they can become responsible actors for water inclusiveness, efficiency and sustainability," she added.
Referring to an event held in 2016, Sheikh Hasina said she was a member of the UN High-level Panel on Water that adopted a 'Call to Action'.
The mid-term review of the Water Action Decade next year will provide us a platform in implementing the action agenda, she said, hoping, "The Kumamoto Declaration will be a useful contribution to that process."
About measures taken in Bangladesh to this end, she said her government has drawn up an inclusive, whole-of-society approach for water management, adding that more than 85 per cent of Bangladesh people have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities.
"We have almost ended open defecation. Our fight against water-borne diseases is a continuous effort. From next month, we shall administer 2.3 million cholera vaccines in the capital city," she said.
The prime minister said that Bangladesh is considered a "role model" in water related disaster management.
Bangladesh's investments in flood embankments, cyclone shelters, coastal polders, green belts, floating agriculture, river dredging and urban storm water drainage systems have increased its resilience, she opined.
She said they are benefited from developing early warning systems and community-based interventions.
The premier said the Bangladesh's floodplain management aims at managing the seasonal variations in water availability.
"We have drawn up a cross-sectoral Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 to work towards a resilient and prosperous delta. Our government is hosting an International Financing Conference next month for mobilizing resources for implementing projects under the plan," she said.
We look forward to using the sediment loads flowing into the Bay of Bengal for reclaiming and elevating lands in our coastal areas.
Bangladesh also stands ready to harness the untapped potentials of Blue Economy, she continued.
Mentioning that her government is aware of the immense impacts of climate change on water, she said Bangladesh sees growing saline intrusion in coastal areas and a sharp decline in ground water level in some parts of the country.
"Our government is giving emphasis on nature-based solutions, including on rainwater harvesting," she said.
Scientists of Bangladesh have been working on developing salinity and water-resistant, and drought-tolerant crops, and already invented a number of varieties, she said.
"We are taking an eco-system based approach to protecting our wetlands. We recognize our rivers to be living entities," she added.
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