The Vision of Budapest Water Summit 2019
There is a new world order on the rise: the world order of climate change.
The great majority of the far-reaching challenges resulting from global warming caused by human civilization are inseparable from water. As a result of increasingly severe weather and the heavy environmental pollution of surface and underground waters, Earth’s water economy is becoming more and more fragile every day.
While the last decades of the 20th century were characterised by anxiety about the exhaustion of the planet’s finite store of fossil fuels, today it is clear that the most severe threat to the stability of our world is not a global oil crisis, but the increasingly severe water crises around the world. Our only hope lies in the direction of recognising the problem, cooperating to reach a solution and taking responsible action.
The goal of the Budapest Water Summit (BWS) is to focus the attention of the world’s political, economic, financial and scientific decision-makers on the prevention of the water crisis. In locations where the crisis cannot be averted, the possibilities of managing it, that is to say the possibilities of survival must be understood in full.
The first summit, held in 2013, formulated a set of goals in water management to be achieved worldwide by 2030. The BWS proposal served as the basis for the Sustainable Development Goal associated with water that was adopted by the UN in 2015. The second Budapest conference, which took place in 2016, represented a milestone in thinking about how the sustainable transformation to be achieved by 2030 is to be brought about. This included rethinking investments in water management. The Budapest Proposal was incorporated in the package of recommendations developed by the High Level Panel on Water convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank Group.
The central topic of the Budapest Water Summit to be held from the 15th to the 17th of October, 2019 is based on the recognition that the steps taken so far, while indispensably necessary, are as yet not sufficient to prevent the escalation of the water crises that increasingly impact our present and our future. We must face up to the increasing frequency of water crises frankly; and make every attempt to prevent them, or to reduce their impact wherever possible.
Lakes and rivers drying up, floods of unprecedented magnitude, droughts decimating harvests and torrential rainstorms rage in our world, not to mention the lasting damage caused by the pollution of water bases and surface waters. The High Level Panel on Water, which was convened by the UN and the World Bank Group in 2016 – whose only member who was President of a European republic was János Áder, the patron of the Budapest Water Summit – published their report in 2018, and they made it clear that “water is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.”
The report, published under the title Making Every Drop Count, makes the following findings:
“Universal access to safe water and sanitation is a cornerstone of socioeconomic development. Water is also a vital ingredient in (among other things) food, energy, health, industrial development, livable cities, and the biodiversity and ecosystems around us. Pressure on water is rising and action is urgent. (...) About 2.5 billion people (36% of the world’s population) live in water-scarce regions where more than 20% of global GDP is produced. By 2050, more than half of the world’s population – and about half of global grain production – will be at risk due to water stress. Intense water scarcity may displace as many as 700 million people by 2030. Growing populations and increasing demand for food and energy will exacerbate scarcity problems, as will poor decisions on water allocation and use.”
Individuals, communities, companies, governments and the various fora of international cooperation must all shoulder the responsibility for taking an effective part in the recognition of the role of water for life on Earth and for our value economy, with a view to incorporate knowledge about sustainable water use in our everyday habits. In the interest of our shared future, we must accord this irreplaceable and finite natural resource the respect it deserves in view of the role it plays in sustaining life on Earth.
The 2019 Budapest Water Summit will offer an international meeting point for those who see and understand the looming trouble, and who, in addition to making committed declarations, would also build bridges of partnership in sustainable solutions.