15th October 2019

Hungarian President János Áder’s opening speech at the Budapest Water Summit

Everyone is aware of the difficult and menacing situation in which human society, finds itself, but only a few act accordingly. – wrote Albert Einstein

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you as the Head of State of a country, in the territory of which the Roman Emperors already built water works, aqueducts and irrigation systems as early as the 3rd and 4th century, that is 1600-1700 years ago. The first king of Hungary already issued water related decrees more than 900 hundred years ago. This is a country, which launched hydro-engineer training at the end of the 18th century and drafted a water rights law in 1885, which was in effect for 80 years, until 1965.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The video you just saw is the short assessment of two years of work. The detailed report that the High-Level Panel on Water convened by the previous UN Secretary General convened – that I had the honour to serve on – wrote the following in its outcome document: “Floods and droughts already impose huge social and economic costs around the world, and climate variability will make water extremes worse. ….. from hereon we cannot take water for granted. Individuals, communities, companies, cities and countries need to better understand value and manage water.”

In the report we described how the drama of too much water, too little water and of polluted water is unfolding in front of our eyes. But in fact we knew that this was really a drama of humanity. The logical consequence of our irresponsibility.

We, who have gathered in Budapest would like to prevent a water crisis that endangers the security of food supply, that makes energy production unviable, that hampers urban development, that makes the predictable functioning of the economy impossible and that brings grave health problems on humanity. The facts are alarming and urge for action at the same time. Already today, 4 billion people experience a lack of water during at least one month of the year. The United Nations report prepared for the latest summit in September warns that 700 million people may be forced to leave their homes due to the shortage of water by 2030.

The World Water Development Report published this spring says that the demand for water may increase by 20-30% compared to the present levels by 2050. If we consider that the increase of water consumption in the world was double the increase in Earth’s population during the past 100 years, then this is indeed a cautious estimate. Thus, the question is: how can we prevent the crisis, where we still can, and how can we adapt in the places, where the water crisis has already set?

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