The Chair of the APWF Governing Council, Professor Tommy Koh,
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Delegates,
Colleagues of the Lead Organizations of the 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to welcome you all to this extremely important gathering here today, and wish to thank the opportunity for me to make few remarks. FAO, in partnership with ESCAP, is privileged to act as the Lead Organization for Economic, Food and Water Security Focused Area Session of the Summit.
Asia and the Pacific Region has achieved remarkable results in economic growth and in reducing poverty and hunger. The region recorded the highest and outstanding economic growth in past decades among all regions on the globe. Asia’s undernourishment rate at the beginning of the Green Revolution in 1970 was 34 percent, almost equal to Africa, but was reduced to half to around 17 percent in early 2000th, and now, although slowed down recently, stand at around 14 percent.
On the other hand, this is resulted to a high cost to the environment, unsustainable use of water and other resources, and widening disparity and inequality among people. Without resolving these fundamental shortcomings, the region’s future sustainable development would continue to face a great risk, and our committed goal to eradicate poverty and hunger would remain as an unattainable dream.
In addition, we should not forget, at present time, as stated earlier, almost one in every seven people in this region still suffer from chronic hunger, and one in every three children in developing world are stunted. Nearly two-thirds of the world total chronically hungry population live in this region. This is simply not acceptable.
FAO estimates that the world has to increase food production by 60 percent ( or 77 percent in developing countries) by 2050 to meet the needs of increasing population, that has to come from scarce and uncertain water resources and limited available arable lands, particularly in our region. All our major food systems are highly dependent on water and irrigation, which are increasingly unsustainable and at high risk.
Indeed, there is no food security if there is no water. Water is such an indispensable prerequisite for food and our life. But if we do not help agriculture to become more productive and conscious to water use, there will be no water security, as agriculture consumes over 70 percent of the total water use.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We must move forward to achieving the goal of hunger-free world, which is the fundamental human right for everyone. Otherwise, our future social and political stability, economic growth, peace and world security would be threatened as already witnessed in recent past,
We believe that the MDG Goal No.1 target of halving the proportion of extreme hunger by 2015 the Zero Hunger Challenge Goal of eradicating hunger in our lifetimes are achievable, if we harness our wisdom, learn from past lessons, promote knowledge based green growth, ensure inclusiveness and sustainability, mobilize strong partnership, leadership and political commitment, and work together as a team for concerted and doubled efforts.
It is therefore my hope that leaders assembled here at the Summit will adopt a political message that commits to eradicating hunger and taking the necessary actions in addressing water-food-energy nexus, as well as their relation to climate changes and land, ensuring inclusive green growth, and pursue broader sustainable economic and social development goals, as our obligation to children and future generations to come.
Finally, I wish invite you to join us at the Fous Area Session on Eonomic, Food and Water Security starting at 10:55 hours today, especially Ministers, policy makers and those from private sectors whose participation to the focused session would be a key for the success in the event. With these few words, I wish you a valuable and meaningful 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit and present stay in beautiful city Cheng Mai.
Thank you for your attention.