Despite the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, G20 Water Ministers have affirmed their commitment to cooperate closely.
The Ministers will also take concrete actions to maintain existing services and accelerate access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services across the world.
The Ministers made the commitment during a virtual G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers held in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
South Africa’s Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu joined the global Ministers of Agriculture and Water in discussions to strengthen policy cooperation towards food security and nutrition, as well as towards tackling water management challenges.
South Africa, which was part of the meeting, was the only representative from Africa that participated and raised crucial issues that concern not only the country, but the region and the continent as a whole.
The Ministerial meeting highlighted the devastating human losses and suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic globally and its impact on food security and nutrition, hygiene, and water and sanitation.
The G20 Ministerial committee adopted a Ministerial Declaration, which will ensure provision of adequate access to safe and affordable water to households, including in health care facilities. This is in a bid to enable critical hygienic measures such as handwashing to be practiced.
Addressing water challenges
Regarding water challenges, the G20 Ministerial committee encouraged the international community to work more closely together, sharing innovation and best practices, and maximise synergies towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 6.
The G20 Ministerial Committee also raised a concern about the impact of water scarcity and poor water quality, as well as the significant impact on biodiversity and ecosystems.
They further called on countries to prioritise water demand management and conservation and substantially increase water use efficiency and water productivity.
Sisulu said that the G20 Dialogue on Water is long overdue and that it came at a critical time of the unprecedented pandemic that puts water at the centre of all interventions.
“This current situation reawakened in us the notion that water is life and is central to all human development,” Minister Sisulu said.
In her address to the G20 Ministers, Sisulu endorsed the statement made by the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski, when he said “water is vitally important in our sustainability as a human species”.
The Minister said South Africa supports the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration.
“Water is a vital concern at all levels and water challenges affect human life, people’s livelihoods, global supply chains, food security, nutrition and ecosystems. It is crucial and urgent that we work towards attracting and increasing water-related investment, innovation, and water security, if we are to achieve the objectives of this forum,” Sisulu said.