17th November 2015

Message of President János Áder to the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

Distinguished Conference,

The Helsinki Convention is close to 25 years old: it is worth revisiting the Preamble to read it again. The first two sentences begin with very important words. “Mindful” and “concerned” are the two opening expressions that define the setting for the spirit of the entire Convention. At the time of signing in 1992, the signatory parties developed common objectives, cognizant that the condition of our waters gave grounds for concern, that protecting them was an urgent task. They understood and stated that cooperation was necessary in light of the increased pressure on our water resources.

Mindfulness and concern: when it comes to sustainable water management these two still go hand in glove today. However, by today we have attained a new level of mindfulness in many ways. It is the realization that the current life style of humanity is not sustainable in its present form because of its fatal impact on the environment and on natural resources. We know what should be changed and also why, and to some extent we know how to do it?

60% of humans live in shared water catchment areas. During the course of history water scarcity, contamination or simple sharing of water resources have on several occasions contributed to conflicts between neighbours. However, it never happened that the conflict produced more water available to those living in the given entire catchment area. Confrontation has never been the productive way to find a durable solution to the problem. There are many more examples for cooperation, which led to much better outcomes.

Sometimes we have the impression that contemporary water related challenges are overwhelming. But if we heed advice of science and we ourselves walk with our eyes open, then we will see that climate change in most cases will not contribute to the solution of water related challenges, but on the way around, it makes them even more severe that we can only solve them together. Thankfully the realization is stronger and stronger that we not only have to share water but also the responsibility.

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Speech of President János Áder At United Nations' General assembly
25th September 2012
Speech of President János Áder
At United Nations' General assembly