Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the High-Level International Event on Interlinkages between Water and Climate Action (27 March 2019)

Good Morning Excellencies and Colleagues,

Let me begin by thanking the organizers for the initiative to hold a high-level event on this critical issue.

Mr. Chair,

Water is a vital natural resource and an integral part of our environment and climate system. At the core of sustainable development, water is pivotal for poverty eradication and economic growth.

It is not only our survival that depends on water, but water is also essential for the health of our planet. It maintains biological diversity and sustains eco-system services.

Water is the medium through which climate change impacts the lives of people most directly, affecting not only their every day environment but also various sectors of the economy such as agriculture, power generation, and even transportation.

Protection of water as a natural resource is therefore the common thread in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) dealing with Water (SDG6), Climate (SDG13) and the Environment (SDGs14 and 15).

Mr. Chair,

With agriculture as the mainstay of its economy, Pakistan attaches great importance to water related issues and considers water to be the core of the three dimensions of sustainable development.

As a lower-riparian state, Pakistan is acutely vulnerable to water-related calamities and this vulnerability has intensified due to the prevalent water-stressed situation in our region.

Besides these risks, many of our catchment areas and their ecosystems traverse boundaries. Changes on the other side of the border have a direct impact on us. Full compliance with the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty is therefore critical for Pakistan.

These risks and vulnerabilities are not just academic issues. We have already confronted them in the shape of widespread devastation caused by massive floods in 2010 and 2011, and drought in the province of Sindh in 2014.

Of the ten major humanitarian disasters that have struck Pakistan, eight were climate-induced.

Besides the tragic human and material cost, these climate-induced and water-related threats also impede our ability to accomplish national priorities, promote sustainable growth and development, and ensure economic prosperity for our people.

Our long-term projections are equally ominous: glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world. At this rate, many glaciers may disappear by 2050, leading to further water-stress.

Based on data from the last fifteen years, the international think-tank, German Watch, has ranked Pakistan the 8th most vulnerable country in its Global Climate Risk Index for 2019. Our own contribution to Greenhouse Gas emissions in only 0.8%.

Excellencies,

It is with this empathy and understanding that we joined the General Assembly consensus and co-sponsored the resolutions on the International decade for action Water for Sustainable Development, and on the Mid-term comprehensive review of the water action decade.

The challenge for all of us now is to ensure meaningful implementation of our decisions.

This would require institutional reorientation and integration of water resource management at all levels to address the balance between water supply and demand. We therefore recognize the need for an integrated, coordinated and balanced approach with strengthened global partnership to ensure effective implementation of water related goals, targets and commitments.

To strengthen our legal framework for addressing both climate change and water let me make three specific suggestions:

I thank you.