Speech of President János Áder at a conference on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals held in the UN Headquarters
Last September we adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in this hall with a significant majority. We agreed on 17 SDGs, which – if we were to summarize their essence – are about the future vision we wish to articulate: what we have to do if we wish to leave a liveable planet behind for our grandchildren.
We have gathered here today to discuss, how we could achieve this objective even sooner, how we could proceed faster on the path we have defined together? Due to the constraint of time, I would only like to concentrate on one of the elements of this future vision. The one element that is related to the implementation of all the SDGs. The one element that equally influences our quality of life, our social and economic relations. The one element that impacts every country, albeit to a different extent. This is water.
Many considered the 20th century to be the century of oil. There are even more today, who believe that the 21st century will be the century of water. Why? Scores of analyses were published during the recent months, which depict an even more dramatic picture about the current situation than before. Let me only offer three figures to your attention from these works. Two-third of Earth’s population – about 4 billion people – suffer from water shortage for at least one month a year. Every second one of them – about 2 billion people – lives in places, where water shortage persists for half a year, for six months. Half a billion people live in settlements, where the daily water uptake is double the amount that nature can replenish. Thus it is only a matter of years, or decades at the most, before these settlements run out of their fresh water reserves.
Thus, water stress is no longer a threatening future vision but an everyday reality in most parts of the Earth. What’s more, it is not only the quantity of water that is proving to be a problem, but also its quality. You all know very well, that although water is available in many places, or at least there is some kind of a liquid in the pipes, but it is not fit for human consumption.