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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Preventing water crises – Budapest to be the capital of water once again

The water crisis – that is the theme of the year’s most important event in Hungarian diplomacy, the Budapest Water Summit to be held on 15-17 October. Water shortages and the severe pollution of water resources are hazards that many hundreds of millions of people face – preventing the catastrophe is everyone’s shared task and responsibility.

In less then six months, Budapest will once again become the world’s water capital: the Budapest Water Summit 2109 will be attended by almost two thousand guests from around the world at the Millennáris Conference Centre between 15 and 17 October. President of the Republic János Áder will be the chief patron of the event.

While during the 20th century, the decline of fossil fuel resources seemed to be the greatest problem, by today, the protection of Earth’s water resources has become increasingly urgent and important. We are currently on the brink of a global water crisis, as water shortages and the heavy pollution of water resources are jeopardising the water supply of many hundreds of millions of people.

According to a UN estimate, by 2050, five billion people will not have access to appropriate drinking water, which will be half the population of Earth at that time – we’ve written in more detail about that here. Recently, it has also come to light that each year, 17 million women give birth in hospitals where it is not even possible to wash hands – and of course there is also the example of Cape Town, where ’Day Zero’, when taps would have to be turned off all over the metropolis with several million inhabitants, is looming large.


IT IS TIME TO TAKE ACTION

Building on the success of the events in 2013 and 2016, the Government of Hungary will organise one of the most important events of the year in Hungarian diplomacy, the Budapest Water Summit 2019, whose main themes will be the prevention of the global water crisis, or, where that is no longer possible, the promotion of adaptation to its impacts.

The summit, to be held 15–17 October under the chief patronage of President János Áder, will aim to chart actions to prevent water crises and successful adaptation to the consequences in situations of too little water, too much water as well as polluted water, and thereby to contribute to the shaping of global water policy processes.

As in previous years, the 2019 event will be hosted by the Millenáris Conference Centre Photo: MTI/László Beliczay

The guests invited to the international conference yet again include the specialist international organisations in the fields of water, sanitation and sustainable water management as well as delegates from governments and the business, the financial and scientific community, as the issue we are facing is not of a purely hydrological nature: managing the situation is a challenge from the perspectives of social and economic development as, well. The water diplomacy event, to which some two thousand delegates are expected, will conclude by formulating guidelines to be followed by all governments and all citizens of the world to draw attention to the proximity of the crisis.

Relative to previous years, this year the water industry exhibition organised as part of the conference will receive even more emphasis. The Hungarian water industry and water science are already working on preventing the crisis, and Hungary is at the forefront of digital water management, therefore the exhibition will be a venue for – primarily Hungarian – water industry companies and organisations that produce competitive, innovative and environment friendly technologies that may play a significant role worldwide in solving water industry challenges and even reducing the already present harmful impacts.

A snapshot of the 2016 Summit Photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák

On the initiative of President János Áder, and in cooperation with UN organisations and the World Water Council, the Government of Hungary had organised the first Budapest Water Summit (BWS 2013) between 9 and 11 October 2013. The closing document of BWS 2013, the “Budapest Declaration” stated that after 2015, water must feature as a separate theme and objective within developmental policy planning. The event played an important role in the inclusion of the issues of water and sanitation in the Development Assistance Framework that the UN adopted in 2015 as a separate objective, so it acted as a compass for sustainable development efforts and international climate politics.

The second Budapest Water Summit took place in November 2016, with over 2200 attendees. The three-day event aimed to elaborate the changes that would be required to implement sustainable water management, and forging a successful link between political decision-making processes, the specific solutions offered by capital, knowledge and technology, and the non-governmental organisations that play a key role, that is to say to set out specific, practical steps so as to aid the resolution of the greatest challenge of the 21st century.

Having met its objectives, the conference specified water policy tasks for the following 15 years, and the package of recommendations adopted at the end of the event contributed to the unification of the sustainable development transition supported by water management and climate protection, and the plan to transform the financing of water industry developments.

Almost two thousand participants worldwide are expected to attend the global summit Photo: MTI/Zoltán Máthé

The High-level Panel on Water appointed by the UN Secetary-General and the World Bank Group President has also used the recommendations of BWS 2016. The conference was attended by representatives of the financing sector, who play a particularly important role in implementation, and who undertook to double the funds devoted to water-related investment projects over the next 5 years.

Both events also included, as a major component, water industry exhibitions, attended by companies and organisations – primarily Hungarian entities – active in the water industry. The two global events therefore also provided venues for the presentation of the Hungarian water industry at the international level, which has resulted in the receipt of large orders, totalling several hundred million dollars.

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