19th March 2018

Speech by Hungarian President János Áder at the opening session of the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia presenting report of High Level Panel on Water

„We have squandered our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn’t going to be one.” – wrote Kurt Vonnegut in 2005.

But we could just as well use present tense. „We are squandering our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow.”

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,

2 years ago, the UN Secretary-general and the President of the World Bank invited 12 politicians to offer proposals on the ways and means of achieving sustainable development with respect to water. What kinds of problems are we facing? What do we need to change? What kind of decisions should we consider?

The main messages of the report that has been prepared were also clear from the video that you have just seen: water is a question of life and death. From now on we cannot take for granted the availability of enough water. Water crisis is not the future, it is here in the present. If we fail to deliver the sustainability goal on water, then success in all the other goals becomes hopeless. In order to prevent this, we need to change our mindset.

The figures – some of which were mentioned in the video – depict a dramatic picture. 2 out of 5 people on Earth are living in regions with water scarcity. 2,1 billion people are forced to consume polluted water. Waste water treatment is not available for 4,5 billion (2/3 of all humanity). 80% of all waste water is dumped back into nature untreated. 90% of the 1000 most devastating natural disasters since 1990 were connected with water.

The forecasts for 2050 show an even more alarming scenario. By 2050: half of humanity will be living in water scarce areas; desertification will be making life miserable for 1 billion people; the number, the scope and the damages caused by water related disasters will increase dramatically.

The challenge at hand is the following: how to use less and less water per capita and constantly degrading soil quality to feed more and more people with sufficient water and sufficient quantities of food – while climate change still has further surprises in store for us.

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