Malaysia calls for establishment of UN agency for water

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has called for the establishment of a United Nations (UN) agency for water to help realise the Water Action Agenda.

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the Water Action Agenda needs a framework that asserts water’s role as the pillar that connects social, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes.

Speaking at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, United States, on Thursday (March 23), he said this should be made a permanent agenda in the UN frameworks.

"The UN must continue to help establish mechanisms to enable developed countries to provide financial and technical assistance, as well as capacity development to accelerate the achievement of SDG 6 (Sustainable Development Goal 6),” he said.

Nik Nazmi also said that the global community needed to acknowledge that the climate crisis was a water crisis.

"The world is facing water scarcity, inadequate provision for sanitation, as well as more intense and frequent disasters and extreme weather events,” he said.

He noted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted in their Sixth Assessment Report that the most vulnerable people are often disproportionately affected and pushed beyond adaptation limits, posing significant challenges for the developing global south.

"Climate change aggravates and widens the existing development gap. Water is central to addressing this issue.

"We need a framework for resilience, and it has to start with water, where climate, environment, and development merge,” he added.

Nik Nazmi stressed that every development plan must consider the water element and its impacts, as the global community cannot afford to forgo the environment for the sake of growth, and neither can actions for water be made a lesser priority compared to climate change and vice versa.

He also shared Malaysia’s Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (Smart) success in not only mitigating flood risks but also effectively easing traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur.

He noted that Malaysia manages to achieve 97% and 85.4% access to water supply and sewerage services, respectively, particularly in major cities, while aiming to reach 98% coverage of clean water in rural areas and 90% sewerage coverage by the end of 2025.

Nik Nazmi reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to water security and access to reliable, sufficient, clean, and quality water supply and sanitation services for the world. - Bernama

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